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Hamilton Leithauser - The Loves Of Your Life (Album Review)

Tuesday, 14 April 2020 Written by Alex Myles

Hamilton Leithauser’s ‘The Loves of Your Life’ is a sometimes delightful set of musings on human nature, be it on close friends and family, or on more arbitrary observations like a seasoned traveller on a ferry (Cross-Sound Ferry (Walk-On Ticket)) or a Polish woman who sat next to him on a bench one day (The Stars of Tomorrow).

The LP’s success is a credit to Leithauser’s astute songwriting, even if its scattered inspiration and shared experiences also contribute to a lack of authorial definition and waning listener interest, especially considering the near 45 minute run time.

This is Leithauser’s third record since the dissolution of the Walkmen in 2013. It’s been four years since his last release, ‘I Had a Dream That You Were Mine’, a collaborative effort with Rostam, a former member of Vampire Weekend and an excellent producer in his own right. 

This time around things were recorded in the confines of his own studio, but the baroque-pop and rustic palette of the last record continue to permeate.

It’s cluttered and clumsy, resembling your favourite band at a country pub after a few jars—the bright clang of an upright piano, occasional blasts of brass, and drums resembling the vintage sound of the Band’s Levon Helm conspire to great effect. 

There’s also the power of Leithauser’s distinctive howl, which hasn’t dissipated over time. At 41 years old his neck and throat must be very forgiving. The personal recording and wistful songwriting process make for a wholly joyful end product, and Leithauser even invited his wife and daughters to provide backing vocals (see Don’t Check the Score and The Old King) and musician friends to play on the album. 

‘The Loves of Your Life’ is indeed a labour of love, but it’s an ultimately ambiguous effort that lacks stylistic variation. Its circus of sounds grows somewhat stale after the half-hour mark, and yet its charming concept and endearing selection of songs manages to provide a much-needed positive outlook.

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