Essential New Music: Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s “I Had A Dream That You Were Mine”


Whether he’s crooning like Frank Sinatra (as he did on solo debut Black Hours) or shredding his throat on, say, the Walkmen classic “The Rat,” Hamilton Leithauser possesses one of the strongest, most expressive voices in indie rock. “I got the same voice I always did,” he proclaims on I Had A Dream That You Were Mine’s “Sick As A Dog,” but it’s quite a voice. Collaborating with Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend, Leithauser sings and shouts of dreams, ghosts and spirits, but the music is alive with ideas. The kitchen-sink arrangements draw on the early rock era. “You Ain’t That Young Kid” sounds like Dylan’s “I Want You”; “Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up)” lurches on a bed of doo wop “sha-doobies”; “Peaceful Morning” foregrounds honky-tonk piano and banjo. But these songs rarely stay in one place, or genre, for long. Their playful mutability keeps them from being genre exercises and makes I Had A Dream a delight.

—Steve Klinge