The Walkmen – Heaven
American indie rockers The Walkmen have had a remarkably productive career since their formation in 2000, releasing seven albums including their most recent LP, Heaven. The progression the band has taken from album to album is one that has to be heralded and with their seventh outing they’ve taken another step in the right direction. Whether you can put it down to the fact the quintet now have families and are ready to take on the new challenges they face with that, or they’re just a band that really know themselves and what they can produce, it’s more than likely a combination of both of these factors.
The New York five-piece have really come a long way since their earlier unhinged, angrier records like “The Rat”. In comparison Heaven takes a much more measured and mature approach. That’s not to say there aren’t those moments of passion and emotion we’ve come to know from the lads, epitomised by “The Love You Love”. It’s a much more uptempo and rockier track compared to the majority of the songs, though again it’s still reminiscent of The Walkmen’s current mellowed sound.
The band worked with Fleet Foxes leadman Robin Pecknold on the record and his influence is felt throughout the album with a lot of the songs possessing a chilled out, folksy sound similar to the indie folk band. Pecknold’s mark can be felt most on the opener “We Can’t Be Beat” where he contributes backing vocals that are quite beautiful in what is a very stripped back track.
“We Can’t Be Beat” is another song that shows where the band are at, content with where they are as not only a band but in life. They seem determined to make yet another record that is a step forward in their advancement as a band, as frontman Hamilton Leithauser sings “I don’t need perfection / I love the whole.”
Leithauser remarked he wanted the album to come off as more optimistic and lush sounding yet still maintaining that fun element and with the title track, “Heaven” the fun vibe certainly comes across. It has a bopping drum beat and chugging guitars that really make you want to dance, but not in a ‘lose your shit 21st party’ kind of way, more like “let’s act our age but still have a bit of a boogie.”
As a whole the record is their most complete yet with a lot more happy tracks like “Nightingales” and “Love Is Luck”, songs that you wouldn’t have heard from the band a few years ago, though the feeling is not out of place now on a Walkmen record.
Age has worked wonders on The Walkmen: while many dread the aging process the band seem to be embracing it, and Heaven is testament to that.
by Jac Manuell