Review: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, 'I Had A Dream That You Were Mine' The former Walkmen frontman records an album with the help of Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij. Throughout, the two surround the singer's voice with surprising, sometimes old-fashioned sounds.
NPR logo Review: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, 'I Had A Dream That You Were Mine'

Review

Review: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, 'I Had A Dream That You Were Mine'

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.


Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of the artist

"I use the same voice I always have," Hamilton Leithauser sings in the chorus of "Sick As A Dog," and he's got a point: The former Walkmen frontman is instantly identifiable, whether he's singing with his old band, working as a solo artist or, in this case, working with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij under the name Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam. Twenty years into his career, he's let the volume dip a bit, but moments of vein-bulging intensity remain.

That said, on I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, Leithauser and Batmanglij surround the singer's distinctive yowl with an assortment of surprising sounds. At times, the arrangements can be downright jarring, as when the backing vocals let fly with some seriously old-fashioned interjections — the repetition of "sha-doobie sha-doobie sha-doobie sha-doo-wop" throughout "Rough Going (I Won't Let Up)," for example, or the echoes of "shoo-wop shoo-wop" in "When The Truth Is..." Elsewhere, the folksy, banjo- and piano-led "Peaceful Morning" ambles along amiably until it builds to one of Leithauser's best rafter-rattling bellows.

A sense of ramshackle playfulness buoys I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, as if Leithauser and Batmanglij (who co-wrote the record, with Batmanglij producing) had made a decision upfront to leave no genre or pop-music era off-limits in the songwriting and recording process. But this is no mere exercise in unlikely fusion: The two musicians use nods to the past as a means of placing Leithauser's voice at the center of something truly unexpected. He may use the same voice he's always had, but he and his collaborators are still coming up with new ways for people to hear it.

Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
I Had A Dream That You Were Mine
Artist
Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
Label
Glassnote
Released
2016

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?