In food-and-wine pairings, you either go with (congruent) or against (complementary). The same can be said of duos, and Paul Banks and RZA’s Banks & Steelz project somehow worked, like racy riesling with spicy Szechuan. Putting together the best parts of the Walkmen and Vampire Weekend isn’t quite as risqué—say, New York strip and cabernet—yet the results are no less satisfying. Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij make like Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan on this Las Vegas-lit West Side story, all deathly stylish cufflinks and vertiginous white collars, licking their wounds between jobs in the lounge. But it’s Sinatra and Martin, not Clooney and Pitt, whose spirits haunt this dream team. Leithauser antes up his Heaven-sent standards and goes all-in, howling at halogen lamps (“I use the same voice I always had” is both true and false) before at last catching his fallen Angel (Deradoorian) on the final track. Rostam’s contributions are more integrated, a live-mic-ed lily-gilding of “Oh Yoko!” bass and piano that powders every beignet with sugar and places each pearl on an oyster pillow.
—Noah Bonaparte Pais