The more he works with others, the more apparent it becomes just how integral a role Rostam Batmanglij played in the overall sound of Vampire Weekend. Whether with Hamilton Leithauser on last year’s I Had a Dream That You Were Mine or now here on his own with Half-Light, Rostam (as he has been billing himself in lieu of using his surname) has sounded more often than not like his former band, less Ezra Koenig’s adenoidal yelp. Indeed, both Rostam and Koenig have similar vocal ranges, if not necessarily tones and timbres, so it’s easy to see these recordings as extensions of what could have been with Vampire Weekend.

Half-Light’s opening track “Sumer” could just as easily be an outtake from the same sessions that produced Modern Vampires of the City, itself the strongest link between Rostam and his old band that this solo album has to offer. It’s a swirling miasma of voices—some manipulated, some left in their more organic state—a gently martial beat and glorious conclusion built around a surging instrumental passage that carries the vocals along to the song’s conclusion. It’s an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach that he’s long proven adept at pulling off without the track feeling overburdened or overly busy. It’s this compositionally-minded brilliance that has served him so well in crafting intricate, aesthetically pleasing arrangements the likes of which are rarely heard in contemporary pop music.

The title track, one of two vocal collaborations, finds Wet’s Kelly Zutrau coming in on the back half following a slow, gradual fade that then comes sputtering back to life in the closing moments. Zutrau’s heavily affected vocals arrive as a ghostly rejoinder to Rostam’s own falsetto crooning. On “Hold You,” his Auto-Tuned vocals are augmented by fellow avant-gardist, sonic adventurer and mononym-sporting Deradoorian. Where Zutrau’s presence feels like a tacked-on afterthought, Deradoorian is woven through the whole of the track, her voice an interesting textural foil, all smooth edges, to Rostam’s warbling.

While there’s not necessarily anything here that listeners haven’t heard from Rostam in some capacity or another over the years, it’s nonetheless refreshing to hear him stretching those ideas out on his own. Whether on the ethereal, almost somnambulant moments (“Thatch Snow”) or the more rhythmically-driven (“Never Going to Catch Me”), his singular voice and midrange string arrangements ring through. This stylistic singularity is a rarity in modern music wherein it seems everything is derivative of something else. Rostam’s unique compositional strengths serve him well in creating intricate sonic landscapes over which his featherweight vocals threaten to float away entirely.

Only the machine-gun opening beats of “Don’t Let It Get to You” manage to break the hypnotic spell cast by the constant forward momentum of his writing style. Yet even this is a brief departure, ceding its more intrusive approach to Rostam’s classically-informed eighth and 16th note cyclical runs. There’s nothing on Half-Light that should come as a surprise, nor is there anything that seeks to rewrite his already well-established bona fides. Rather, it is more an enjoyable extension of and evolution in his creative process, both in collaborations and solo work.

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