Album review: The Walkmen - Lisbon (Bella Union)
Emotional New Yorkers use the Portugese capital as impetus for their blisteringly heartfelt fifth album
Take 2008’s ‘You & Me’, a sublime shift for the band, who, having specialised in the pains of the heart, embraced a warmer pathos and wider, brass-infused horizons. After that, it could have been crushing to be confronted with yet more blogs declaring The Walkmen as one-hit wonders. Fortunately Portugal’s capital – or rather several trips to it during sessions for their fifth album – intervened. While not retreating from the expansiveness ‘You & Me’ heralded, ‘Lisbon’ re-embraces the strong percussiveness that pervaded The Walkmen’s earlier work.
Opener ‘Juveniles’ sets the tone with its crashing cymbals and stark guitar line, yet Hamilton Leithauser’s whimsical vocals let it trip along intoxicatingly, while ‘Angela Surf City’ might thunder with Bonham-esque drums, but it’s with a wry smile (“Mine is yours, yours is yours”) rather than rage. ‘Blue As Your Blood’ ticks along with a clockwork fury, yet is soothed by bruised vocals that yearn for a lost love, before ‘Stranded’’s mariachi brass crashes its soul onto life’s rocks.
This is an album to fall in love to, to break up to, to drown sorrows to, or to bounce around to. One-hit wonders? Well, the wonders part is right.
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