From the underground to the main stage, Alex Wiley’s considerable lyrical versatility continues to mature and expand in his newest project. See him at Holocene on April 27.
When Hamilton Leithauser opens his mouth, he opens his throat. And the noise that comes out of the (often dapper, mostly stoic, always tall and handsome) man sounds like Rod Stewart with a death wish. That harsh tenor binds and elevates Leithauser’s 15 years of music: from The Walkmen to his 2016 collaborative LP, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, with Rostam (Vampire Weekend).
The Walkmen, born in Washington D.C. and bred into a successful indie band in New York City, arrived in 2002 with one of the great wordy, self-hating album titles of the ‘00s: Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. With Leithauser fronting the rock quintet, they released seven albums in ten years — melodramatic and frustrated in tone, while still managing to feel disaffected in Leithauser’s lyricism. Their most famous song, “The Rat,” is the most emblematic example of that contrast.
In 2014, The Walkmen quieted into indefinite hiatus, and Leithauser embarked on a solo career with the Black Hours, a smooth and lonely nightlife album relying on the singer’s charisma and humble melodies. Teamed now with Rostam (though touring without him), Leithauser benefits both from his collaborator’s memorable hooks and strange sonic asides. Their album’s first and biggest song, “A 1000 Times,” finds Rostam mimicking his singer’s vocal part with delicate piano before he ushers the band to swell behind a forceful ballad. Everything Rostam brings to the album stems from a complex relationship with Leithauser’s voice and its one undeniable quality: He croons in a way that would frighten crooners.»
– Chance Solem-Pfeifer