The Walkmen's 'Heaven'
- Article by: Casey Stohrer
- Posted: 05/29/2012
For years, The Walkmen have quietly made their mark in indie rock as a band whose sound couldn't really be characterized. The natural thing for music listeners to do these days is try to pinpoint influences here and there – maybe Hamilton Leithauser grew up listening to a lot of Roy Orbison, or a guitar line was reminiscent of Joy Division. But every time an attempt is made to free-associate The Walkmen, they manage to elude the usual comparisons and wander into slightly more unknown territory. It also helps that these guys evolve with every record, which seems like a foreign concept these days.
On their sixth studio album Heaven (5/29/12, Fat Possum), the group demonstrates a confident, steady hold on their style. Hamilton's wandering vocals are stark and powerful in front of their signature sparse instrumentation, much like Harry Nilsson back in his heyday. (It's no wonder that they decided to cover his and John Lennon's Pussy Cats album.) The lyrics are distant and simple, unique only to the mind of the narrator, but when a line like, “Don't need perfection, I love the whole / Oh give me a life, that needs correction / Nobody loves, loves perfection,” comes floating by, you can't help but relate.
The songs can get a little monotonous on their own at times, and the record might take a few listens to really get into, but as a whole, Heaven offers an intriguing, interesting mix. From the almost-gothic, dark doo-wop of “The Witch,” and the familiar post-punk rhythms of the title track, to the somber fingerpicking of “Line By Line,” the album meanders through familiar styles while still maintaining The Walkmen's distinct voice. Overall, Heaven is a solid record--another log to the fire of The Walkmen’s enduring music career.
The Walkmen will play Heaven its entirety on June 6th at the Bowery Ballroom. The performance will be transmitted through a worldwide, live stream provided by Spotify and filmed by La Blogotheque at 9pm EST. Visit http://thewalkmen.com/ for more details.