The Walkmen have been one of my favorite bands ever since hearing The Rat(2004 album Bows+Arrows) used in Sandbox’s film Flavor Country. For the past week I’ve been listening to Heaven on NPR Music(get the app dummy) and for the past week it’s been pretty much the only thing I listen to.
The great thing about Heaven and The Walkmen in general is their accessibility. It’s clear that a band has a formula that’s working quite well when each of their albums improves on the one before but doesn’t necessarily take off in a crazy new direction. Each album that they’ve put out has had a great blend of jams like The Love Is Love driven by the drumming of Matt Barrick, as well as slow waltzes like No One Ever Sleeps featuring the signature warble of Hamilton Leithauser’s voice and jangle of Paul Maroon’s guitar. Undoubtably many of you will find yourself playing the title track over and over again this summer(hopefully in your car, windows down, volume way up). Heaven is a summer time jam and destined to be a classic. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Heartbreaker and Nightingales find their way onto some favorites lists. Like many of the songs, they’d be right at home blaring from an old Wurlitzer in a hot diner down south. Speaking of which, Leithauser’s affinity for ol Dixie continues with Southern Heart which is a perfectly situated as track number five. It’s the break you need, a chance to catch your breath and reflect on what’s happened so far. Just a man, his guitar and his broken heart. One cannot ignore the beautifully constructed song that kicks off the album. We Can’t Be Beat is a song with lyrics that can be read into quite deeply as they’re sung by a frontman who has six albums under his belt, each a variation on the one before, each a graduation in production and style. Love Is Luck and Song For Leigh could have easily fit in on older Walkmen albums stylistically speaking but the clarity in the ringing of the guitars and snap of the snare, it’s what defines this impressive piece of work. Make no mistake, Heaven is an impressive album, one that I think will garner the guys many new fans. By the time Dreamboat(the thirteenth and final track) fades in, you should feel like you just went on a little adventure with an old friend who just showed you something awesome. You’ll want to share what you’ve been shown with all your friends, but not right away because you want to enjoy it on your own, just for a little bit. It’s not because you’re selfish, no not at all. It’s just that you want to understand why the adventure was so great, why you felt what you did and how you’re going to go about making sure anyone you share it with understands too. Heaven is out today on I-Tunes and Spotify so I suggest you get to enjoying it right away.