Rostam

Half-Light

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AllMusic Review by

Given the wide range of Rostam's projects outside of Vampire Weekend -- which included collaborations with the Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser, Charli XCX, Frank Ocean, and HAIM -- his debut solo album could've gone in any direction. Elements of all of these projects turn up on Half-Light, but his interpretation of them is far more personal. As he looks back on his time in New York City (he moved to Los Angeles in 2013), he makes it easy to hear the years and miles between that time and when he recorded the album. Befitting the first album from an eclectic producer, Half-Light is filled with audacious and awe-inspiring sounds that span pop, indie, classical, and R&B and provide the perfect foil for Rostam's humbler, but still expressive, voice. He gives Vampire Weekend's worldly prep school vibe more heart on "Sumer," where choral vocals and harpsichord flourishes feel like an invocation of summer, and on "Bike Dream," which could pass for one of his former group's songs were it not for the flirtatious, proudly out chorus of "Two boys/One to kiss your neck/And one to bring you breakfast." Elsewhere, he pays homage to his Iranian heritage, setting the hushed confessions of "Wood" and "When" to rippling Middle Eastern percussion and strings. Beautifully impressionistic arrangements like these give Half-Light an immersive, dreamlike quality that evokes dusk and dawn, the times of day when reality's edges soften and memories have their strongest pull. In this regard, Half-Light closely resembles I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, Rostam's collaboration with Leithauser. Angel Deradoorian, who helped make that album so transporting, even appears on the ghostly R&B of "Hold You." The supersaturated distortion and reverb Rostam uses on "Don't Let It Get to You" and "Warning Intruders" and the stream-of-consciousness flow of "Gwan" make them feel like they're burned into his memory and can't be contained any longer. Half-Light is a sprawling, passionate musical memoir; as far as remembrances of things past go, this one is remarkably forward-sounding.

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