This titanic super-duo of indie pop feelings-havers contains one Walkmen frontman and one Vampire Weekend songwriter -- Hamilton Leithauser is the former and Rostam Batmanglij the latter. With Leithhauser's band dissolving as Batmanglij quit his, the duo got together to write songs in grandiose baroque stylings, much in the mould of Leithauser's recent solo material. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine is a serene collection of newly-styled old fashioned, with "A 1000 Times", its lead single, a pulpy love song romp.
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Here lies a record with an opening tune so unbelievably brilliant I worry for everything that comes after it. “A 1000 Times”, the first glimpse of a collaboration between two indie rock deserters in Hamilton Leithauser (an ex-Walkmen crooner) and Rostam Batmanglij (an ex-Vampire Weekend songmaker), is a tune that posits one melody at breakneck pace with particular shades of grandiose and meditative, stripping away the drums and then bracing the guitars and parsing out the bass. It’s a tune whose lyrics are worn cliche by time but presented so succinctly they feel new. It’s arena indie rock staying in the bedroom instead, and I hereby ban all of my smelly workmates from being apathetic about it.
Uh. Anyway. If you’re still here, this collaboration is a pretty mammoth one, positing two big names who make music in the same circles but after different hues: Hamilton’s pop is quite baroque in styling, seeking out the darling-ness of an old-fashioned and supremely suit-wearing Sinatra. Rostam, meanwhile, has helped make tunes halfway between quixotic and heartfelt, but strikingly modern, in Vampire Weekend. Together they make something that sounds pretty classically rocking but do so with the cheek of it all, whether it’s breaking into the simple swaying of “Sick as a Dog” with a squirming synth or unbalancing the doo-wop vocal stylings of “Rough Going” with the growlier outtakes of Hamilton’s booming vocal.
The record becomes something of a proof of its own purchase, two professionals attempting to perfect every corner of a typical rock record, be it production, aesthetic or song. “In a Black Out” is proof of all three, its watery and wintery acoustics providing the perfect backdrop for a folk pop tune of arpeggiating guitar, lilting drum brushes and glassy synth. “When the Truth Is…” uses a fiery but cornballing guitar riff to introduce another tune with a doo-wop pacing, while “You Ain’t That Young Kid” attempts the sort of pantomimic lullaby you might have found halfway through a decent Walkmen record. Through its sublime arrangements and tidy production, this record becomes a nice place to stay, more than anything, never quite achieving the climactic heights of its opener but all the while proving itself more than an airing session for two musicians. Listening to the flourishes, harmonies and divergent pop ideas on this record, you can hear how much they’ve put into these songs -- which sound, quite simply, nice, on the other side.
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