Tridone’s Top Tracks: Rostam releases long awaited debut album

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Tridone’s Top Tracks: Rostam releases long awaited debut album

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Past Vampire Weekend member and popular producer Rostam Batmanglij released his debut studio album “Half-Light” on Sept. 15. Rostam has worked with a multitude of popular artists on their albums, including Frank Ocean, Carly Rae Jepsen, Solange, and Charli XCX.

As a producer, Rostam showed his strength on this album. The incorporation of a wide range of musical instruments into the songs is beautifully executed. Everything from bongos and synths to violins are used, and that’s just on the song “Wood” the string arrangements and melodies are by far the highlights of the album. Songs like “Wood” and “Thatch Snow” let the listener see how well versed of a composer and musician Rostam is through the wonderful incorporation of an impressive amount of instruments.

Rostam’s singing ability is the biggest drawback of the entire project. He sounds like a decent singer who had an abundance of instruction. On a majority of the album, like “Hold You,” “When,” and “Gwan,” Rostam’s singing hurts the overall quality of the songs. He struggles to hit notes and has a dramatic nature to his tone, which doesn’t mesh well with the beautiful instrumentation. The songs sound as if they were originally outlines that Rostam made for other people rather, than songs he created to use as his own original product.

However, the singing isn’t terrible throughout the entire record. On certain tracks, like “Warning Intruders” and “Never Going To Catch Me” Rostam adds different vocal effects to enhance his singing, which results in a phenomenal final product. When his singing is distorted or changed in post-production, it makes the vocals and the overall quality of each song better. The best example of this is on, “Don’t Let It Get To You” where Rostam matches the low, colorful synths and rapid fire drums with his semi-distorted vocals. It’s a very diverse track, showcasing the best of his production and vocal skills.

The highlights on the album are when Rostam’s vocals matched the vibe of his production. “Don’t Let It Get To You” is a great example of the vocal effects and score coming together to make an incredible song. Rostam’s distorted vocals paired with the rapid fire percussion and quick changing background makes for a dynamic and energetic song. The short interlude “I Will See You Again” is another example of Rostam’s singing boosting a track.

Overall, the composition is the most impressive part of “Half-Light” Even on the somewhat boring cuts, like “Sumer” the score is colorful and diverse. At its worst, the arrangement comes off as decent, never reaching the mark of bad or awful. “Thatch Snow” includes the tightest string arrangements, with quick violins playing in the background. Rostam’s diversity is shown off on “Wood,” where he includes bongos, a sitar, strings, bells, and layers of other instruments to create an amazing song.

The lowest points are when the arrangements and production don’t make up for Rostam’s poor singing. Many times the production dies down some during the verses, which puts the subpar vocals in the spotlight. “Bike Dream” is an excellent example of this. The song kicks off with heavy drums and a buzzing synth melody, both of which sound promising before the verses start. When the lyrics begin, the singing is strikingly lackluster. Rostam’s voice just seems uncomfortable on many of the tracks, like on “Half-Light.”

The songwriting on the album is also fairly average. “When,” “Warning Intruders,” and “Gwan,” are the only songs that struck me with impressive lyricism. Sometimes the songwriting is simply too vague for its own good, like on “Never Going To Catch Me” Rostam clouds his words, which doesn’t work well with the subject matter of “what people are capable of getting away with” Overall, songwriting never hurts any particular song, but it rarely adds to them.

This album shows listeners why Rostam stayed behind the scenes with his former band, Vampire Weekend, and let Ezra Koenig take on the vocals. His production on the album showcases his influence on the band’s sound, but Rostam’s singing takes a toll on the overall product.

The composition on the album is definitely impressive. If you enjoy Vampire Weekend, check out “Half-Light” Vampire Weekend fans will appreciate the album, for the most part, as it’s the closest thing we’ve gotten to a Vampire Weekend album since their 2013 effort, “Modern Vampires of the City” Listeners who appreciate instrumental complexity and albums that sound wonderful as a whole should also check out the album.

BEST TRACK(S): “Wood,” “Don’t Let It Get To You,” “I Will See You Again,”and “Warning Intruders.”

WORST TRACK(S): “Sumer” and “Half-Light”

RATING: 3.9/10

Evan Tridone is a Contributor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

 

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