The Walkmen were a bug-eyed, curveball-throwing New York outfit of the 00s whose fairy godmother never quite outgunned fate. With the band on hiatus, raw-throated lead singer Hamilton Leithauser found himself studio-bound with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, game for a change. The result is this uncommon duo record that mixes sax—laden Irish bar doo-wop (Rough Going (I Don’t Let Up)), analogue synths and harmonica (You Ain’t That Young Kid), banjos (Peaceful Morning) and Leonard Cohen-ish chanson (In a Black Out). The just-so production and mastery of the American songbook is pure Rostam, while Leithauser anchors these story-songs with a plethora of vocal moods: gargles, croons and yelling.
Kitty Empire is the Observer's pop critic. She has written for NME and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, 5Live, BBC 6Music, and has appeared on BBC2's The Culture Show and Newsnight Review. @kittyempire666