Hamilton Leithauser’s first release post-The Walkmen is his lightest foray. It’s not a collection of ballads; rather, there are plenty of tumbling rhythms and woodsy harmonies. Members of The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend and The Walkmen get involved in the fun and seem hand-selected to match the respective tracks.
Still, Leithauser is truly in his own league as a vocalist. His gritty multi-octave apparatus is apt for weary traveller crooning (5 AM); bouncy melodic bliss (The Silent Orchestra) and choral celebration (11 O’Clock Friday Night).
Black Hours is more fun than The Walkmen’s 2012 LP Heaven, but what gave that record addictive appeal was the agitated energy lying beneath rather nice tunes. This one features some downcast moments (‘Do you ever wonder why I sing these love songs/When I have no love at all’, he sings on 5 AM), but it’s generally in an affable mood.
Black Hours is consistently agreeable, but it doesn’t pull you completely under its spell. As such, the record’s strongest moments are the occasional tender touches, revealing Leithauser’s peerless vocal powers.