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Rostam Practices Safe Sax On New Album, Changephobia

The former Vampire Weekend producer/multi-instrumentalist puts his idiosyncratic approach to pop music on full display.

by Daniel McIntosh

On Changephobia, Rostam Batmanglij continues to build on the baroque and classical stylings that made Vampire Weekend a unique entry in the aughts-rock canon. Despite his major claim to fame being the principal producer of the alt-rock quartet, Rostam’s second solo album draws heavily from jazz. The album is bolstered by Henry Solomon’s baritone sax, an instrument Rostam says he grew obsessed with over the yearslong creation of the album.

It’s hard to not see shades of his production history in Changephobia; “Next Thing” stands as an echo of VW’s “Diplomat Son,” while the breakbeats on “From the Back of a Cab” and “Kinney” recall his electronic output as one-half of Discovery. The disparate parts of the album make a comfortable background for Rostam’s lyrical exploration of queer self-discovery. “4Runner” celebrates the specific type of private-in-public intimacy that emerges on road trips, while Rostam’s reverberated delivery evokes Chris Martin’s warble on “Shiver.”

The new additions to Rostam’s already expansive bag of tricks reassert his ability as a songwriter and producer, making a solid case that change isn’t always such a bad thing.