CD REVIEW The Walkmen

Band : The Walkmen
Album title : Heaven
Label : Bella Union – Cooperative Music
Distributor : V2 Benelux
Release date : 04/06/2012
Release : CD

Aha,a returnee...but not a really good one to me! Having voiced my mixed feelings about this New York based band's previous album Lisbon in a review posted 17/10/2010, at least I don't have to go through The Walkmen's history again.

According to the info sheet which accompanies our (download) promo copy of the new album, the new album shows a band of maturity, a group of musicians which together has grown in the course of the past 10 years, but foremost because all of 'em are now fathers. In essence, it means that they have moulded their music into a recognizable item, benefiting from past compositional experiments to make the “best sounding” songs possible...or, in other words (ooh, I càn be so wicked occasionally) they have found a way to make a music which, with their backgrounds, is the best commercial thing they can make. After all, they have mouths to feed now, so their music better cough up some dough, right?

Okay, okay...I'm a bit too harsh here, and I can understand the need for musicians at a certain point in their career needing their music to make enough music to live off. In fact, in their style The Walkmen àre quite good, musically speaking. But personally, I still do not like frontman Hamilton Leithauser's somewhat nagging vocal style most of the time (I mùst admit that in a couple of songs on this album his voice actually fits the music quite well, you know). Ach...some background on the album's recordings? Last year the band toured with Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, which resulted in some strong friendships being developed...and so when Fleet Foxes producer Phil Ek approached the band for the possibility to record together, The Walkmen readily agreed. Robin Pecknold (also of Fleet Foxes) lent his voice to sing backing vocals on two songs. Additional musicians came in the form of Jenn Glenn, Erika Pierson, Jen Kozel, and Victoria Parker adding strings in various places on the album, and one Morgan Henderson adding some percussion. Although in a lesser capacity, the album also still benefits from some trumpet being played by guitarist Paul Maroon (check “The Love You Love”). As a whole, admittedly, the album doés have a warmer sound.

To hear some full-length songs, check (www.) soundcloud.com/thewalkmen (it's through the label's site) or go to (www.) rhapsody.com (link on the band's facebook page) where, at the time I checked, you could stream the complete album (after signing up). If The Walkmen's whaling sounds are to your liking, you may wanna look out for the band at one of the American festivals during the summer, or wait until the end of October, when they tour the UK. For precise dates & venues, check the “Tour” section at the band's own website (www.) thewalkmen.com. Having been able to appreciate the new album a little more than its predecessor, my rating is also a little higher (don't expect to see me frontstage at any of the band's live appearances, though!).

78/100

Tony.