Ex-Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist Rostam bares all in his pensively solo debut album “Half-Light.” The self-produced album puts us in his shoes of estrangement, identity crises, and pondering.
Everyone Else but Rostam
A graduate of music from Columbia University, Rostam Batmanglij joined Vampire Weekend and produced their self-titled debut album. The internet’s hype played a pivotal role in their success, but at the same time had its own backlash. The band’s foundation on the prestigious Ivy League university garnered criticism regarding their social backgrounds, with one writer calling them “the whitest band in the world.” Rostam’s parents are ironically Iranian immigrations and on top of that, he came out as gay after Vampire Weekend went mainstream.
He spent the last decade working with a multitude of artists from different genres. Frank Ocean’s “Ivy,” Charli XCX’s “Need Ur Luv,” Solange Knowles’ “F.U.B.U.,” and a few tracks by HAIM all fall under his production résumé. Prior to his solo debut album, he released a few singles which all received stellar reviews from the likes of Zane Lowe. No plans of a full-length Rostam album were announced to the public, but five years later on November 2016, he Tweeted a quick peak for his solo music.
Somewhere in the Half-Light
Rostam left Vampire Weekend in early 2016 to pursue his own projects. People began to freak out over the thought of him cutting ties with the band, but both lead singer Ezra Koenig and Rostam confirmed that the multi-instrumentalist will be contributing to their fourth record. As he builds a separate identity as a musician and producer, “Half-Light” takes us on a musical journey through Rostam’s past; how he sees his environment as a gay son of immigrants without getting in-your-face political.
Throughout the album, Rostam narrates his feelings of alienation as one of the many marginalized American citizens. Sometimes he’s straightforward about it, sometimes he beats around the bush. His equally important lyrics dance with the drum-dependent tracks and reverberated vocals, pulling us in for a 52-minute daydream stroll through New York City.
“Half-Light” is full of introversion that will make you want to get up and walk around your city while listening to it. Who knows, you might finish the record with a few new-found reflections of your own.