Hamilton Leithauser will forever be associated with the gripping intensity of ‘The Rat’ but his voice and ambition has always been about more than operating as The Walkmen’s vocal battering ram. It proved as the band moved away from the glowering force of ‘Bows + Arrows’, and with their 2014 hiatus ongoing, Leithauser’s debut solo album, ‘Black Hours’, became another solid exploration of older music and older times.
It was on that album that Leithauser and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij first collaborated but here they’ve emerged with something fully-formed. On the face of it, it’s a partnership that sounds exactly as you’d expect: latter era The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend meeting somewhere in the middle.
‘Sick as a Dog’ moves with a delicate touch, Leithauser’s throaty falsetto adding rawness to the track’s easy-going lilt; ‘Peaceful Morning’ initially comes on as a banjo-led, Dylan-like ditty before Leithauser cuts loose in a way that only he can, screeching to the heavens like he stepped on a rusty nail; and ‘When The Truth Is…’ transforms from sultry doo-wop into raucous basement bar shanty as sweet melodies drift through cigarette smoke, stamping feet and loosened ties.
It’s a concept that plays out beautifully with Rostam’s production softening Leithauser’s lupine power and makes ‘I Had a Dream That You Were Mine’ a storied, sepia waltz through more sentimental times.