Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hamilton Leithauser's Solo Debut: 'Black Hours'

It's here! Former Walkmen front man Hamilton Leithauser's debut solo album officially dropped today, ending the long wait to have the best part of The Walkmen back. Late last year, I was so disappointed to hear the band decided to consciously uncouple (theirs was called an “extreme hiatus”) - ending the seven-album streak of eclectic garage-meets-soulful-indie-rock that I'd grown up with. Quite simply, they were my favourite band. However, almost immediately after hearing the news, fans were reassured that Walter Martin, Peter Matthew Bauer and (best of all) Hamilton Leithauser would be releasing debut solo albums - softening the blow considerably. While Martin and Bauer's solo efforts were good news, it's clearly the lovable front man who we couldn't wait to hear croon again.

On Black Hours, Leithauser's pipes are just as bold and jazzy as you'd expect, bounding over those high notes he’s managed to hit throughout his 13 years in the spotlight. Whether the 1950s rock stomp of "Alexandra", slow-chugging psychedelia of "The Smallest Splinter" or playful summer anthems like "I Retired" and "11 O’Clock Friday Night," each Walkmen departure is a welcome addition to Leithauser’s diversified bag of tricks – sounding little to nothing like his albums with the band, but every little bit like himself. Listening to Black Hours – a collection filled with everything from doo-wop infusions (the one at the end of "11 O'Clock" is magical) to melancholy piano odes – it actually becomes hard to remember him making other kinds of music, only because this shoe fits so well.


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