Largely known for his production work through the previous years, working alongside giants such as Frank Ocean, HAIM and Maggie Rogers, the former Vampire Weekend member shares a new single – following up on his late 2020 release, “Unfold You.”
Batmanglij’s solo work since leaving Vampire Weekend in 2016 has been an interesting capsule of his personal life and progression as an artist. His first full length release, “Half Life”, came in 2017 and since then, leaving a trail of Grammy nominations, diverse high-profile collaborations, and hundreds of thousands of record sales behind him, Rostam has raced towards a position as one of the indie’s most prominent contributors.
Unlike the intimate jazzy, saxophone infused malaise of “Unfold You,” “These Kids We Knew” pushes forward – decidedly more energetic than its predecessor – pleading the importance of urgency in youth, desperate for corrective justice. “I was thinking of three generations while I was writing this song,” says Rostam of the track. “There’s a generation of adults who don’t see global warming as their problem because they think they won’t be impacted by it. Then there’s a generation younger than mine, who will certainly have to deal with what is happening. In the song I have a fantasy of the younger generation arresting the adults and putting them on trial in the streets of cities around the world. Those are the ‘sidewalk courts’ that I sing about in the song.” Reflective on damage done, “These Kids We Knew” is an apt ode to the tumultuous year gone by and a warning for years to come.
“These Kids We Knew” comes with an accompanying video, further expanding on the track’s expression of deep societal frustrations and anxieties. The video is populated by on-screen lyrics atop desolate, destroyed images of civilizations and nature, as if to show the true end-game of these injustices Batmangjli sings of. The juxtaposition of clean, white type over such distressed, uninhabitable imagery creates a unique weight to the video, pushing Batmanglij’s words to the absolute forefront of the track. The changing fonts – even paying homage to his previous work with Vampire Weekend with a peculiarly specific font choice that eagle-eyed viewers may catch – and slideshow of disturbing backgrounds work together in unison, as if to create the most haunting episode of Every Frame A Painting.