The Walkmen – Heaven
In 2010, The Walkmen stormed back into the spotlight with the excellent Lisbon, which hit airwaves and record stores just as the flood of electronica began to pervade every corner and crevice of the indie music world. Lisbon, and all of The Walkmen’s excellent body of work for that matter, provide an alternative to the bleep-blop of electronic music and the ’80s nostalgia that still seems to dominate most of the musical output nowadays. This is not to say that the current electronic or synthesizer-heavy sound is necessarily a bad thing, but even the best of trends can grow wearisome after a while. Cue The Walkmen, whose music and lyrics have bonafide classic rock elements at every turn. From the epic crescendos and the bare-bones emotion of the lyrics to the heavy reliance on guitar riffs and vocals, this group is a rock band to its core.
Heaven, while maintaining many of the same characteristics that have made The Walkmen successful and consistent, possesses certain qualities that set the record apart from any other in the band’s illustrious catalog. Opener “We Can’t Be Beat” offers an orchestration and direction that had been previously unexplored by Hamilton Leithauser and company at any point beforehand. A folksy romp of a track, “Beat” manages to work on all levels and, most importantly, feel and sound natural and effortless. Whereas The Walkmen came off almost improvisational and loose on many of the group’s past efforts, Heaven is a tighter, more deliberate affair whose songs take on a more structured approach. Fear not, however, for the band’s notorious energy is still present, but just channeled in a different manner. Overall, Heaven turns out to be, front to back, one of the most consistent releases of 2012, and is sure to be on many a year-end list come this December. Seven albums into their career and The Walkmen have still yet to release a subpar album.
Highlights: “We Can’t Be Beat”, “Line by Line”, “The Witch”, “Heaven”