Two men from Washington DC who made their hard-to-spell names in the New York indie rock world, Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij have found much to connect them on their first collaborative album. At only their second full concert together, they shared a sound that took them far from their former bands.
Since leaving Vampire Weekend, Batmanglij has been in demand as a producer, landing songs on big albums by Frank Ocean, Solange and Carly Rae Jepsen. Leithauser simply has a voice that needs to be heard, even without his old group The Walkmen. Here he attacked his microphone, hitting a stunning high note as the music dropped out on Peaceful Morning, vaulting from a Bob Dylan slur to a rasping howl on the piano waltz of The Bride’s Dad.
With bass and drums, Leithauser mostly on acoustic guitar and Batmanglij flitting from keyboards to electric guitar, a lot of the subtler touches on their album, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, were lost. Batmanglij triggered an eerie choir effect during In a Black Out, a fingerpicked Americana number currently benefitting from exposure in the new iPhone advert.
The producer has talked about wanting to write for Leithauser for years. On the music box lullaby 1959, the first song they began together in 2012, and the retro doo-wop of I Retired, a collaboration on a 2014 Leithauser solo album, he showed that theirs is a sound that goes a fair way back. It deserves to endure for longer than one album.