First off, if you don’t know the name Rostam Batmanglij, search him up, listen to him and weep. If you’re really listening, you may not need this post at all, but if by some absurd fluke of nature you don’t understand the pure geniosity™ of the man in question, we’re here to educate you.

Hot takes:

  1. Rostam Batmanglij is a musical genius and he doesn’t get enough appreciation for it.
  2. Vampire Weekend sucks without Rostam on it. They are NOTHING without him.

Except these takes aren’t even hot, they’re just universal truths that only a fool or a madman would dare question.

Rostam’s music is fucking spectacular. If you’re not paying good attention, this fact might slip by you unnoticed. But seriously, who else could combine insane instrumentals and vocal effects and innovative Production™ and wonderful melodies and a unique writing style formed from prose-poeticism and emotional vulnerability? He has everything.

I mean listen to the strings at the beginning of Gwan, and how he overlays the notes and the pat of the drums and how ethereal his voice is as he sings: “And sometimes I laugh when I think about how well you know me.” It’s beautiful, it’s melodic and it’s layered, it’s evocative and it’s both orchestral and pop and pure melody all at once.

Take, for example, Sumer: it opens with a deep, distorted growl of a voice and it immediately launches into an almost comic tune, like some sort of Christmas-carol type-beat, except weird, but then it layers with the sound of a vocal-affected gospel choir and the tamborine-noises come in. Listen to how the beat and the choir-like affects fade in and out of intensity. Listen to the slight distortion and reverb on his voice.

Listen to Half-Light, the calmness of the piano and the way his voice seems to flood. Listen to the lyrics: “Baby, are you getting cold? My room is just down the hall. And if you stay the night I promise not to call,” and the way it perfectly captures a modern romance that isn’t a romance at all, of something that is by nature anonymous and ephemeral but somehow, in the moment, feels anything but. Listen to the way the synths interact with the keys and the metallic nature of the drums, how his voice becomes increasingly echo-y and distant as the song hits the 2:27 mark and you think the song is over, but then SIKE! It isn’t.

Honestly, we could write on and on about every single Rostam song, ever, from his solo album to his collaboration project with Hamilton Leithauser, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, to his older but still lovely work with Wesley Miles of Ra Ra Riot as the band Discovery. We could talk about the single Gravity Don’t Pull Me and the universally relatable sense of regret and nostalgia it evokes with this techno-flood in the background, we could talk about how genius it was to end his 2017 album Half-Light on Don’t Let It Get To You (Reprise). We could wax poetic about Hold You and I Will See You Again and the endless joy and coalescence the strums of a (?) banjo with the strings and a thudding beat in In a River bring about on a cellular level, but honestly—the music should speak for itself.

And besides the music, of course, he’s just the kind of human being who, according to pictures of him smiling and his lyrics and his voice and his entire life story, innately engenders this natural affection within you.

Also, Rostam’s another man who (like Monsune) clearly recognizes the importance of album art aesthetics and iconography and everything. I mean, look:

He’s one of those artists who deserves to be EVERYTHING but somehow isn’t yet, and we need to fix that. Listen to him, please—if not for us, for yourself.

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Rostam. There is only Rostam.