May 29, 2012 Issue #41 - Yeasayer
For their seventh album, Heaven, The Walkmen hired Phil Ek (Built To Spill, The Shins, Modest Mouse, Les Savy Fav, etc.) to handle production duties. It's safe to assume this choice had something to do with The Walkmen opening for Fleet Foxes last year, as Ek produced both of Fleet Foxes' LPs. Ek is a superb choice, and it's not surprising The Walkmen would want to work with him. What's surprising is how much The Walkmen sound like Fleet Foxes on Heaven.
After 10 years together, a band typically grows more polished and mature, but it's difficult not to feel that something essential and elemental to The Walkmen's aesthetic is missing from most of Heaven-that palpable sense of urgency on display throughout their catalogue is on display far too little.
That said, the album is still a top-notch collection of songs. The title track and "Heartbreaker" showcase the band in fine, urgent form. With its lapping surf-guitar lines, "Heartbreaker" could pass for an outtake from Pixies' Doolittle. "Southern Heart" features nothing more than singer Hamilton Leithauser alone with an acoustic guitar, and it is the quietest song on the album; the coda's repeating refrain, "Tell me again how you loved all the men you were after," is absolutely divine. (www.thewalkmen.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10