I Had A Dream That You Were Mine is a joint project between The Walkman's lead singer Hamilton Leithauser and artist/ producer Rostam Batmanglij. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, but as a fan of Rostam I tried (try*!) to keep up with all things he's involved in, however I had no idea this project existed until they released the lead single "1000 Times" back in July, and I've been salivating ever since (what a dog I am, classic male, amirightladies??)!
Before we get to the record, I need to fan out momentarily. I've spoken about my love and affection for former Vampire Weekend member/ producer/ can-do-anthing musician/ superstar Rostam Batmanglij for as long as this site has been in existence, which, I know hasn't been THAT long, so know and trust that my appreciation extends long past the confines of that timescale. His influences range far and wide and he's able to pack his worldly sound in an enlightening and accessible package. If he lends his expertise to a song, it's the best song on the album, it's as simple as that. And while he's never put out a solo LP (or EP) for that matter, the handful of singles he's released throughout the year have been some of my favorites (listen to "Wood" on the right). His talent seems endless and he's someone who I hope is well funded so he can continue to focus on exploring the soundscape and create beauty forever and ever amen.
Comparatively, my praise of Hamilton Leithauser will seem lackluster, but The Walkman have been a companion of mine since 2002, when I was introduced to their debut record, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone. Hamilton's voice can lend itself to any genre, allowing the band to stretch it's rock persona outside of the traditional sound that accompanied many groups who were birthed (and died) during their years together. They eventually decided to take some time off following the release of their last album (and my favorite) 2012's Heaven, allowing Hamilton to delve deeper into some avenues that weren't fully explored within the group. This led to 2014's Black Hours (which Rostam lent his expertise to), a record brimming with confidence, as he croons his way through through a slew of genres, showering us with charm and ability.
I Had A Dream That You Were Mine had me just as curious as it did excited. These two seasoned and talented musicians were more than capable of bending sounds to their respective wills, but their approaches leading up to this marriage had been considerably different. Rostam's dreamy and often distant tendencies coupled with Hamilton's harder, rockabilly style, would make for an interesting joining of sounds. The result is one of my favorite listens this year.
The music definitely rest more in Hamilton's wheelhouse, as we're gifted with a retro rock extravaganza (rockabilly, doo-wop, soul, etc) on more than half the songs, though Rostam's prints are all over them, lending us a unique take on styles that have long been with us, a sentiment which can be experienced on the first three tracks, "A 1000 Times," "Sick As A Dog," and "Rough Going (I Won't Let Up)." However, it's the slower songs that take this record (and me) to new heights. "In a Black Out" sees them reminisce about life in a small town, and the people that leave. It's simple yet profound, and something that sticks with you. Keeping with that sentiment, my favorite track is the album closer "1959." This heaven soaked lament of a past relationship is one of the most beautiful tracks I've heard all year, and a hell of way to end an album.
This album has the workings of something that will be with me for quite sometime, and considering how often I move on the the next thing, that means something. They didn't try to do too much, keeping things tight at 10 songs and 40 minutes, which is generally the perfect formula in my opinion. Each song has it's own identity, whether it be the country-folk sounding "Peaceful Morning" or the simplistic, lullaby-esque "The Bride's Dad," the consistent diversity is what makes this album great. While I expected a lot from these two innovators, my expectations have been surpassed in a wonderful and surprising way. I Had A Dream That You Were Mine mixes depth and beauty with lightness and fun, making Hamilton and Rostam a desired combination that I never knew I needed, but now can't live without.