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Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

I Had A Dream That You Were Mine LP

"I retired from my fight," Hamilton Leithauser crooned with a smirk on his first great solo tune. "I Retired"'s very existence confirms that the singer didn't actually give up, but Leithauser's point about getting older and figuring out how to keep creating felt like a painfully self-aware revelation upon arrival, six months after his longtime band the Walkmen announced an indefinite hiatus. "All the fire in your heart won't help/All the smoke up in your head," he continued, figuring that "as long as [he] can keep the train rolling, then all [his] friends will always know they'll never be alone." Consider it a self-fulfilling prophecy tucked inside a nugget of irony: A song called "I Retired" directly spawned Leithauser's next musical direction.
"I Retired" was one of two songs from Leithauser's 2014 solo debut, Black Hours, that he worked on with Rostam Batmanglij. Leithauser and the former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist/producer apparently bonded over shooby doo wops, their deadpan version of which sounds like the Flamingos came down with a case of urban malaise. That vocal technique is all over "I Retired" and again on I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, emblematic of what makes Leithauser and Batmanglij's first collaborative full-length the rare release that looks backwards without falling victim to retro pastiche.
With Batmanglij's piano and Leithauser's voice as their guiding forces, the duo answer a question that has eluded many a musician before: How do you incorporate the music of the past without losing yourself in what's already been done? Even those beloved harmonies represent just one tool in a deep kit, right alongside Spanish guitar, Disney strings, bawdy horns, tender banjo, airy vocal loops, and cinematic reverb. Together, Leithauser and Batmanglij work their way through nearly seven decades of musical history—from doo-wop and country-rock to Leonard Cohen-style torch songs and the George Martin-indebted baroque-pop Rostam often used to make VW twinkle—but they also don't forget who they are in the process: one of '00s indie rock's most charismatic singers, alongside one of its most creative songwriter-producers.
-- Pitchfork
item # 41486
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