Amazingly recorded in only five days, The Walkmen’s fifth and latest Album, Lisbon, is as sweet and nostalgic as a relaxing day at the beach. Well, that is, a beach possibly located in the country. The album’s laid back but heavily emotive songs carry with them a feeling of southern hospitality and remembrance of days gone by.
The opening track of the album titled “Juveniles” is a drum heavy, sing-a-long, pushed forward with thoughtful vocals and treble-heavy guitars. Songs like “Angela Surf City” and “Victory” give the listener something to introspectively and dutifully nod their head to. It’s also no wonder that the band insists on only using vintage instruments to record with. The album’s overall warm tone, amongst the sometimes heavy guitars, can only come from using such antiquated gear.
The Walkmen’s lead singer, Hamilton Leithauser, has a voice reminiscent of a present-day Bob Dylan with an indie-rock edge. His combined vocals and lyrics are both wise and coaxing, as if to tell the listener it will all be OK. In the song “Stranded,” he sings, “You don’ t want me, you can tell me, I’m the bigger man here” as if to say he’s been down such hard roads before, and is alright with carrying another loss. “While I Shovel Snow”, a stripped down guitar, bass and vocal ballad, gives the listener a chance to really take in Hamilton’s voice with the lyrics, “well today is clarity, and tonight, I see tomorrow,” Leithauser sings.
Another extremely honest song is “Follow The Leader,” which sounds as though it were recorded at a live concert. It begins with delayed guitars and tribal rhythms. The guitars are extremely gritty and simple, making them stand out in their rebellious sounding nature. The Walkmen’s style is unique in that they do not try to sound perfectly clean. The allure is in the grit and electricity from the effect of creating a live sound in a studio recording. They make sure that as much as they are “indie rock” by nature, that there is always a thread of country twang and dirt strung in as well. “Blue As Your Blood” begins with a hypnotically minimal guitar riff. As it continues on, the vocals then enter like a coaxing massage, backed by rhythmic slaps. As everything builds up to the middle of the song, extremely lush strings enter, creating a meditative feel.
This album is a great movement forward for The Walkmen, they really know how to suck a listener into their music with trance-like intros and carry them through to the other end with a feeling of life experience and assurance.