The Walkmen – Lisbon
[Fat Possum, 2010]
Jeff Pearson, September 11, 2010
Originally published by Life’s Sweet Breath
Listen: “Angela Surf City”
The Walkmen are back. They technically never went anywhere, lodged deep in our heart’s memory, if such a thing even exists. They saunter out of said memory pocket of our hearts, yawn, stretch, pick up their instruments, and rip right into Lisbon, without even offering us breakfast.
Lisbon opens with the familiar jangle of Paul Maroon’s guitar on top of the powerful drumming Matt Barrick pounding a simple, yet thick back-beat, in “Juveniles”. Singer Hamilton Leithauser enters with his raspy howl, proclaiming “You’re someone else tomorrow night, doesn’t matter to me/Cause as the sun dies into the hills, you’ve got all I need.” The hook is huge, a common recurrence on Lisbon, these songs are catchy without yielding any of the raw sound and emotion that we’ve come to expect from The Walkmen. “Angela Surf City” is no exception to this rule, a bouncy tune with a simple, grounded sound which elevates into the clouds when the chorus hits.
“Stranded” sounds like a battlefield hymnal with trumpets blaring into the rain, while Leithauser acknowledges the storm falling around them: “Oh why does the rain fall so cold when I’m stranded and starry-eyed?” Almost as if the battle against the storm has been won, comes “Victory”, a celebration of all sorts. The verses can barely contain the outburst of joy the chorus will bring, brimming with energy until it all explodes into proclamations of victory, both musically and lyrically. On “Woe Is Me”, The Walkmen channel surf rock vibes while keeping it distinctly their own sound. “Torch Song” slows the pace, yet has an incredible level of energy, sure to work a club into a frenzy. The album closes with “Lisbon”, a loose, sauntering end to a brilliant album.
The Walkmen have always made everything sound so effortless. The melodies come to them as if whispered in their ears by some ethereal American beings, spirits who can write songs we know and love yet are hearing for the first time. It is with this gift that they bring us Lisbon. Always familiar, always fresh. Most importantly, always refreshing.