The Walkmen's new album "You & Me" starts off with a low rumbling beat and the words "Well, it's back to the battle today, but I wouldn't have it any other way" encapsulating perfectly the feeling of returning from a vacation or a couple days off to the mundane daily grind of your job. It's sublime in it's "It's got to be done, so here we go" type feel. The Walkmen to me have always felt like the penultimate working class group. I think this stems from their first album "Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone" where the album art is an aged photo of boys smoking, presumably in the 1930's. Ever since, I've associated the Walkmen in my mind with other famous 1930's-1940's images, like the steel workers having lunch high above the city or the weary faces of farmers facing the dust bowl. But, As much as the Walkmen convey that they know what a hard day's work is they feel like they also know the full extent of cutting loose. There's something noble about how they describe getting drunk with friends, something classy, that only they can pull off.
You & Me is a return to form for the New York City band, granted there were a few amazing standout tracks on their previous record "A Hundred Miles Off", (Another One Goes By, Lost in Boston) the album was largely a propulsive experiment in making your ears ring. This time around Hamilton and co. favor quality over clatter and the album is all the better for it. Again we're given chiming guitars and familiar raw hazy emotions, calling to mind red ears and alcohol, but occasionally the haze lifts and a life altering epiphany appears. That maybe getting drunk with your friends and staying out at all hours of the night might not be the best way to spend your life.
The musings about being left behind by those in your life springs to mind immediately on the song "In The New Year" where Hamilton Leithhauser mulls over how his sisters married his best friends while he lives at the same old address. Other standouts include the Ocean Rain-esque "Red Moon" which is followed by my favorite song on the album, "Canadian Girl" the chord strums, and guitar accented back beats just make it for me. Don't limit yourself to just those tracks though, the album is beautiful in the way it ebbs and flows through various rhythms and styles that all sound distinctly like The Walkmen. Keep an ear peeled for a harp towards the end of the album.
On this their fourth and possibly best album, The Walkmen have crafted an album made with shambly melodies and fuzzy tones that come together in way that's just as satisfying as closing the door behind you after getting home at four in the morning. In a perfect world, it would be mandatory to listen to the Walkmen on any drive home past midnight.
The Walkmen - Red Moon
The Walkmen - Canadian Girl
You can get the excellent new Walkmen album here, for $5, and $5 will go to the Sloan Kettering Hospital. This is a unique opportunity to get some great music at a good price, and help out a good cause.