Rostam, ‘Gwan’ | Track Review
Rostam Batmanglij (Rostam) drops a captivating, creative single, “Gwan,” in advance of his Nonesuch debut project, ‘Half-Light.’
When Vampire Weekend comes to mind, often the first member associated is frontman Ezra Koenig. Even so, another former member played a key role in the success of the Grammy-winning indie rock band – Rostam Batmanglij (simply Rostam now). Unfortunately, he exited Vampire Weekend, but has been busy doing his own thing. The talented musician, producer, and songwriter releases his “proper” debut project, Half-Light on September 15. Ahead of Half-Light, he issued five singles: “Bike Dream,” “Wood,” “Don’t Let It Get to You,” “EOS,” and “Gwan.”
The string and string arrangements are absolutely stunning on “Gwan,” arguably the crowning achievement of the record. Beyond consistent use strings throughout, the strings shine even more on an extended instrumental section. Beyond the strings, there are other musical pros. This isn’t surprising, given the talent of Batmanglij from a production standpoint. Vocally, Rostam exemplifies the indie-rock sensibility in regards to his vocals. His instrument is distinct, expressive, and unique. The tone, the overall timbre, feels right given the sound and vibe of “Gwan.”
Lyrically, Rostam remains a thoughtful songwriter. There’s a simplicity, yet the words carry weight. He expounds upon the lyrics on Genius, building even more appreciation for the record. The chorus changes, but key parts remain with each iteration:
“…All of these dreams / Keep coming back to me slowly, slowly / And sometimes I laugh / When I think about how you know me.”
The cons are more nitpicks, with nothing ultimately derailing the song. While the sound fits the alternative mode superbly, it’s still tough to get past Rostam and Vampire Weekend NOT being a thing anymore. This particular song has many Vampire Weekend qualities, yet lacks Ezra Koenig on vocals, and a bit more punch. Vocally, the enthusiasm of Batmanglij can’t be denied – he also showcases such enthusiasm in the music video. But, listening to him, you still want just a little something more…or Ezra.
Ultimately, “Gwan” is another intriguing song from Rostam. There’s plenty to like and even nitpicking, little to dislike. For the skeptical listener, give “Gwan” a couple of listens, and the magic unveils itself more and more.