Rostam Batmanglij left Vampire Weekend final yr, however he didn’t head for the seashore to loosen up: The multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter had already launched some solo materials, fashioned a duo with the singer of Ra Ra Riot referred to as Discovery, collaborated with The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser on a wonderful album, and helped write and/or produce songs for large hitmakers like Carly Rae Jepsen, Charli XCX, and Frank Ocean. With Half-Gentle, Rostam—he’s not likely utilizing his final identify professionally anymore—steps away from the nameless consolation of band and collab-life for a solo album that crackles with fussy, unbelievable vitality. It’s shut sufficient to the sound of his best-known band—with whom he nonetheless plans to work now and again—to be acquainted, however far sufficient to get a bit bizarre, which is one thing he clearly enjoys doing.
Squint a bit bit and some of the songs on Half-Gentle may belong to Vampire Weekend, although it shortly turns into clear that Rostam’s manufacturing is unrestrained by the standard band construction right here; he’s free to let the sounds run wherever they’d prefer to go. The album is front-loaded—virtually regrettably so—with huge songs like “Sumer,” which really begins small however finally ends up with an enormous refrain and a harpsichord jam. “Bike Dream” is a bit more historically poppy, with a unbelievable little singalong daydream: “Two boys / One to kiss your neck and one to carry you breakfast.” It’s probably the most intentionally hooky tune on the file, and it’s an ideal late-summer single.
As he will get deeper into Half-Gentle, Rostam will get a bit extra indulgent and fewer direct: “Thatch Snow” begins out like a gorgeous automotive business—that’s not a slight, Subaru ought to pay him for the string hook in some unspecified time in the future—however it doesn’t actually go anyplace past its multi-tracked vocals. “Wooden” is equally fantastical, constructed round insistent tabla sounds and Rostam’s disaffected vocals. (He spends about half the file actually singing, and half form of moaning affectionately. Each modes work fairly effectively.)
The album geese even farther from conventional indie-rock with “Maintain You,” which sounds for all of the world like Frank Ocean. Angel Deradoorian sings the hook, and Rostam will get minimally digital, vocoder-ed out, and slinky as hell. It makes virtually no sense within the context of the album, which makes it—and the album—that rather more partaking. And Half-Gentle isn’t lower than attention-grabbing: It’s tremendously layered and fussy, but in addition candy and light-weight. It’s a hell of a begin for a man who’s been doing it without end.
Buying Half-Light via Amazon helps support The A.V. Club.