Hamilton Leithauser’s voice is perfectly haunting.
Indeed, upon hearing the latest collaboration between him and Vampire Weekend alum Rostam Batmanglij, Leithauser’s voice is the first thing that pops out. And boy does it stick with you. But as you listen more closely to Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, there’s a whole lot more happening on the seemingly stripped down and bare to the raw bones new album, and it’s all good.
Since distancing himself from Vampire Weekend, Batmanglij has been focusing quite a bit on producing – including work with Ra Ra Riot, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Solange. Which is how he met up with Leithauser. After the 2013 breakup of his group The Walkmen, a stalwart on NYC indie music scene, Leithauser began working on a solo album, and Batmanglij agreed to produce two songs.
Shortly thereafter, Batmanglij tweeted that he was “no longer a member” of Vampire Weekend, though he still planned on working with frontman Ezra Koenig. Which freed him up to work on his own projects, and become an even bigger collaborator with Leithauser. Together, the two have made something that sounds unlike anything I’ve personally ever heard, and it’s all anchored by Leithauser’s wailing howl. Batmanglij’s production and keyboard round out the haunting, dreamlike feel to the album, which remains cohesive and futuristic fresh while exploring everything from surf rock, to doo-wop, to roots music.
You may recognize the eerie “In a Black Out” from the iPhone 7 commercial where a skateboarding cinematographer goes cruising around town, snapping lowlight pictures under a foreboding full moon. So it appears the album has already been a financial success, as well as an auditory one. But for me it started with the album’s first song, “A 1000 Times,” where the album pulls its title from. It’s a haunting earhole for sure, and though I’ve listened to it a 1000 times now, there’s still more mystery to unlock within.