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

Vampire Weekend? No. Rostam? Yes.

I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, released on September 23rd, features former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij collaborating with former lead singer of the Walkmen, Hamilton Leithauser. I never thought anyone could compare to the Ezra Koenig and Rostam duo, but Leithauser + Rostam blew my mind and all of my expectations. I don’t think I realized until now that everything I loved about Vampire Weekend was Rostam. Both him and Leithauser are initially from Washington D.C. and are experienced in the New York indie scene. The combination of Rostam’s diverse instrumentation with Leithauser’s incredible voice on this album truly highlight and enhance each other’s strengths. This exceptional album has an ageless feel with some doo-wop vibes on a song or two, truly making it one of a kind.

Just to name a few, Rostam has evolved and collaborated over the years with Ra Ra Riot, Carly Rae Jepsen, Santigold, Frank Ocean, and Solange. He previously worked with Leithauser’s solo album, writing and producing two tracks on it. Leithauser was first a member of The Recoys, and then after the breakup of his second band, the Walkmen, he went on to focus on his solo career. The Walkmen had more of an angry indie rock feel, and this album draws more from Leithauser’s solo work, as well as the heavy influence from Rostam. They pulled inspiration from a very broad range of music, as evidenced in the Spotify playlist that they created (“Hamilton: 50 Good Ones”).

The album is raw and poignant, transporting you to a completely different era. Each song is intertwined and seems to carry you through a different genre. The album utilizes Rostam’s extraordinary talent and depth in a variety of different instruments such as guitar, bass, banjo, piano, harpsichord, organ, synth, and so many more including all of the composing of the horn and string instruments. The opening song and first single released “A 1000 Times” …I’ve probably listened to a thousand times. You can really feel Leithauser’s emotion here, and he sings with such conviction. It’s a great initial draw into the album, and they also released a music video for the song that’s worth checking out. It’s directed by Rostam, and it tells a story of a young, middle-aged, and old Leithauser singing with his band about “a dream he’s had a thousand times.” Another single they released was “In A Black Out,” which has a nostalgic feeling, and the vocals and instrumentation are simply beautiful. It separates itself from the rest of the album. My two favorite songs on the album are “When The Truth Is…” and “The Morning Stars.” Leithauser is honestly a powerhouse vocalist, and he sings with such passion. His raspy yowls are so unique paired with Rostam’s diverse instrumentation. Finishing the album has a lasting, haunting feeling.

No, I am still not okay with Rostam leaving Vampire Weekend, but I am no longer mourning his exit. This album is everything I can hope for and more.

So long Vampire Walkmen, and hello Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam.

-Amanda Thompson

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