in Review

The Walkmen – Heaven

In rock n’ roll, growing old gracefully is never an easy thing.  It especially can’t be easy for a band like The Walkmen, who’s early music owes much of it’s charm to the way it embodied the confusion and frustration of being a young man.  So it’s been a bit surprising to see The Walkmen comfortably slip in to their 30’s with a warmth and ease that’s markedly different in tone, and yet at the same time retains a lot of the trademarks that’ve always made them an enjoyable band.

You’ve probably already gathered from all the times I’ve talked about it on this blog, but 2010’s Lisbon was The Walkmen’s stab at a minimalimist sound that showed a band trying to turn inward by giving the listener less musical flourishes to grab on to.  Heaven seems to be an attempt by the band to create a fuller sound, filled with a kind of lushness and generosity that matches the more wide-eyed optimism of the lyrics.  I definitely like the scaled-back approach that they explored on Lisbon, but I’m glad they tried the approach they do here, since I think this band is always capable of pulling off grandiosity as well as anybody around.  Also, the album shows the band is still willing to try a few different things, as they do with noir-ish “The Witch” or the country-fied “Southern Heart”.

I guess one question for any Walkmen album is whether there are any kick-ass singles that match the caliber of something like “The Rat” or “Angela Surf City”, and though I’m not sure that there are, there are definitely some that are pretty great.  The album’s title track is certainly a stand-out, as is “Heartbreaker”, which kind of sums up Heaven‘s whole point of view with the line “These are the good years/Ah, the best you’ll ever know”.  Whether the years will continue to be good for The Walkmen will remain to be seen, but they’ve certainly been good for Walkmen fans, since these guys have remained interesting a lot longer than I think anyone would’ve expected.

Favorite Tracks: “Heartbreaker”, “The Love You Love”, “Heaven”

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