Review: ‘I Had A Dream That You Were Mine’ – Leithauser + Rostam

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Hamilton Leithauser, former Walkmen frontman, and Rostam Batmanglij, multi-instrumentalist from Vampire Weekend, have teamed up to produce and co-write I Had  A Dream That You Were Mine under the name Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam.

The album as a whole is a perfect juxtaposition of Leithauser’s, at times, scratchy growl, against the organized instrumental compositions by Rostam. The aesthetic is most apparent on the the first track, “A 1000 Times.” Leithauser wails on about a dream he’s had a thousand times with someone that no longer exists in that idea, singing in the pre-chorus, “But I don’t answer questions, I just keep on guessing/ My eyes are still open, the curtains are closing/But all that I have is this old dream I must have had.” The repetition of the chorus, “A thousand times, a thousand times, I’ve had that dream a thousand times,” is drilled so deeply, that as a listener, you start to believe it too. This person was not a dream at all.

As much as both men probably don’t want to hear, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine sounds as if Vampire Weekend went to rock ’n roll school and graduated with a gritty rock singer. The jangly pianos and steady drum patterns Vampire Weekend listeners are accustomed to are not lost on this 10-song beauty. “When The Truth Is…” exemplifies that sound, with background harmonies and a more light-hearted tone from Leithauser. “Peaceful Morning,” however, opens with a banjo riff unheard of throughout the rest of the album or any Vampire Weekend song. Leithauser takes the tame song and builds it up to make it anything but a peaceful morning.

No genre is left behind on this album. With a blend of folk, pop, rock, and doo-wop, it’s a 40-minute look inside the creative minds of the two indie rock giants. “Rough Going (I Don’t Let Up)” quickly interrupts the rock pattern of the album with doo-wop echoes of “sha-doobie sha-doobie sha-doobie sha-doo-wop” and finger snaps, bringing the record down a few decades. It isn’t until the last track, “1959” that he shares vocals with Angel Deradoorian. Her female influence brings the metaphor of the album to life. The girl he’s been looking for, dreaming about, and catching glimpses of to tide over his desire, sings alongside him to close out the record.

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