The Walkmen – Heaven
May 29, 2012
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Heaven is the 7th LP (including one cover album) from New York indie rockers The Walkmen. After making their name in 2004 with a number of hits from their album Bows + Arrows and an appearance on The OC, the modern-day Walkmen are of a far different cut. With a more mature sound appearing through their latest albums, Heaven continues in much the same direction. The band is past their frenetic, rock stage that spawned The Rat, with a more emotional angle. That’s not to say they have completely forgotten their roots, but the initial impressions are completely different to the early days.
So what you will about their other albums, but Heaven gives obvious nods to their influences. The Tom Petty-inspired Heartbreaker is as charming as could be, and the lyrics “These are the good years/Ahh, the best we’ll ever know/These golden light-years” show that the band recognise just how good they have it at the moment. The Witch sounds like it could be an Arctic Monkeys B-side, to the extent that singer Hamilton Leithauser’s entrance is a bit surprising, having expected the Yorkshire-drawl of Alex Turner.
The Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold joins the band on backing vocals on the softer No One Ever Sleeps, and compliments the delicacy that the band display on this record. While there are a few less adventurous tracks on the album, namely Nightingales and The Love You Love, these tracks will be adequately served up in the live setting, to contrast with some of the softer tracks on the album. But apart from these more formulaic tracks, the album is quite wholesome.
Despite the gradual change in sound over the years, you could argue that they have become less addictive and more enthralling. While they started with energy and fast drum-beats, Heaven relies on a softer mix of tones and melodies to become a more complex work than they have ever produced. However, I can’t imagine them ever making a song as brilliant as The Rat.