They say that change is the only constant in life. While that may be true, we often forget about the myriad of emotions that go along with it. Doubt, regret, excitement. These things are often all entangled together and on his new record Changephobia, Rostam Batmanglij delves into all the emotional textures that change can bring. The talented producer, multi instrumentalist and songwriter has gone through a world of change over the last few years.
After leaving Vampire Weekend at that band’s peak, Batmangli has been spreading his creative wings working with a ton of talented artists, as well as his own solo material, and on this latest album his hard work is definitely paying off. Firstly, the album’s production is absolutely sublime. It does contain traces of his production work with Vampire Weekend but Rostam takes what he did on those records and blows it all up into a living technicolour. The drums pulse and the synths crash like waves into each while the guitars wax and wane. As good as it all sounds though, the songwriting is truly the star of the show.
“These Kids We Knew” kicks things off with a slightly underwater groove that comes into focus with the song’s lyrics. Based on a fever dream he had, Rostam sings about a younger generation rising up to take whatever power they can from an older generation, indifferent and unmoved by a world in crisis. “These kids we knew for so long/They don’t speak like they’ve been spoken to/By governments or emperors/Gonna line you up on the sidewalk court”. It’s a courageous sentiment and one that initiates a song cycle about change, where it’s coming from and how it affects us all. “From The Back Of A Cab” is a beautiful take on the fleeting nature of modern relationships. Over a very Odd Blood-era Yeasayer groove, Rostam sings in his quiet tenor, “And in the back of a cab we sit closer/And I rest my head down on your shoulder/From the back of the cab to the airport/I am happy you and I got this hour” and it’s beautifully bittersweet. Elsewhere on Changephobia Rostam paints on a broader canvas. “4Runner” is big and bold. Filled to the brim with an anthemic guitar and percussive groove, Rostam explores new love and how fresh and exciting it all is. Set to the backdrop of a road trip with this other person, Rostam perfectly captures how wonderful stepping into this kind of change can be.
As with the other projects that Rostam has been a part of over time, Changephobia feels fresh, spontaneous and is filled with a dizzying amount of layers, musically and lyrically. Rostam shows a ton of depth and growth throughout the album and proves his thesis that change is constant and, even with all the murkier emotions that go along with it, it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Pre-order or save Changephobia by Rostam HERE
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