Hamilton Leithauser – “Don’t Check The Score”
In the beginning of February, Hamilton Leithauser began rolling out his latest solo album, The Loves Of Your Life. So far, we’ve heard “Here They Come” and “Isabella.” Both of those came with amusing teasers shortly before their release, “Here They Come” previewed by a sketch in which Ethan Hawke beat Leithauser up, and “Isabella” accompanied by one in which Leithauser gets a haircut from/gets very bummed out by Maggie Rogers.
Today, we got a hint that there’d be another new song, “Don’t Check The Score,” ahead of The Loves Of Your Life’s arrival in a couple weeks. While it wasn’t a full-blown narrative clip, this time Leithauser was joined by Sienna Miller, letting everyone know the album was out soon and then smashing a glass over Leithauser’s head. This has been a rough rollout for poor Hamilton!
Along with the track, Leithauser shared a bemusing memory about the song’s inspiration and title:
Hi – Today I am releasing my new song “Don’t Check the Score.” It’s about rooting for an old estranged friend. Maybe it was a rocky road and weird goodbye, but you’d like them to know you’re still in their corner.
When I used to work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my friend introduced me to “day trading” which is just compulsive gambling on the stock market. It can be done from your home (or work) computer. Instead of working, we would gamble all day. It was incredibly fun when you were up, and not as fun when you were down. This was around 2001, so we only had a dial up connection on one shared computer. It took like 45 seconds to login to the website to check your bet (hopefully you’d made like $55 or something). When things looked sour, you’d say “don’t login!” Out of sight, out of mind — sort of. In reality you’d just be biting your nails thinking of nothing else… definitely not working. Anyhow, the title is a metaphor for looking the other way, or avoiding an inconvenient truth. I guess I could have called it “Don’t Login” but I think there’s a lot more nobility in a sports metaphor than a day trading metaphor. Eventually, I stopped trading, because the house always wins.
So today this song goes out to all the gamblers, betters, troubled souls, long-lost friends, and sad-sack day-traders who can’t face logging in.
Right now, don’t login.
Like the other songs we’ve heard from The Loves Of Your Life — and, for that matter, like a lot of the music Leithauser has made whether solo or in the Walkmen — “Don’t Check The Score” has this mercurial balance between being old-time-y and out-of-time. And like the other singles, there’s something about it that feels distinctly tied to New York, the city it was written in and the city in which its various character sketches unfold, while not being of a piece with any specific New York sound. This one features Leithauser over twinkling piano notes and soothing background vocals. It also features him singing the words “On the Peter Pan bus!” about as dramatically as you could imagine someone singing those words. Check it out below.
The Loves Of Your Life is out 4/10 via Glassnote Records. Pre-order it here.