Fourth album of tropical lullabies and strangely uplifting melancholy from New York City’s The Walkmen
While the Kings of Leon continue to dumb down the Walkmen strike up their most intricate and withdrawn set as of yet. These are songs that don’t have ambitions but instead reveal endless layers of emotion to carefully attune to. It’s hard to pin the Walkmen down to the NYC underground because they are forever playing away. The branded ringing guitars have rolled all four albums forward with distinctive Afrobeat and at times a near Carribean calypso sound well before Vampire Weekend began playing at global sounds. A steamy nightmare theme stalks through with steel drums appearing like a faint dream behind Hamilton Leithauser’s drawn out gutteral, positive jam vocals on standout ‘Long Time Ahead Of Us’. Despite the sombre tone and constant despair there is unrelenting optimism in the howled lyrics of a different class: “Bad luck you come for me//Oh and shadows to my left//And to my right//Tomorrow will rise//And the sky will be bright//Long time ahead of us// Goodnight//I’ll never change//Now that I got you.”
Beginning with the mermerizing bass lines of ‘Donde Esta La Playa’ and ‘On The Water’ this over long-player of 14 tracks has no obvious single in the vein of ‘The Rat’ or ‘Louisiana’ stripped from ‘Bows + Arrows’ and ‘A Hundred Miles Off’. However, this collection of intertwined tales holds attention with greater gusto than any previous. Regimented drumming, organ and the mournful horns of the most memorable moment of beauty on ‘Red Moon’ the newly expanded band of instruments takes ‘You & Me’ from the past and in to new country.
‘In The New Year’ promises, “it’s gonna be a good year//Out of the darkness and into the fire//I’ll tell you I love you” yet by the penultimate ‘I Lost You’ hope is shattered: “I wish you were still along//I waited a long time//All for you//I lost you.”
‘You & Me’ plays out like a relationship sent to mend in paradise returning doomed. That isn’t a fate The Walkmen need worry about.