Song Reviews: The Walkmen (Heaven)

It’s been an interesting five years since I first became a Walkmen fan. Of course it all started with “The Rat” from the highly influential (for me) MLB 2k7 soundtrack. At that time I instantly dug deeper into the band’s catalog and realized that I practically loved everything the band had done to that point. Fast forward to March 2008, I e-mail the band asking if they will be playing any all-ages shows in Boston. I receive a response back from their fake band manager, Doug, saying maybe in August. September 2008. They play at the Middle East Downstairs. 18+ — no go. Bummer. Fast forward one more year. I see the band live for the first time. Actually two nights in a row at the Mid East Down. Great times. You and Me was excellent. Lisbon rolled around in 2010 and I honestly wasn’t too impressed. It’s a good record don’t get me wrong, but it is a bit too mellow (on a whole) for my ever evolving, higher energy taste in rock and roll. The band is getting up there in age (mid-late 30s, all are married) so surely they are in a different place than they were in 2004 when Bows + Arrows came out. That record is better suited (lyrically/musically/etc) for a 20-something year old man than a 16 year old or a 40 year old. Here we now are with Heaven, the band’s sixth original studio album. A few tracks have been released and here are my thoughts:

“Heaven” – I enjoy the pace and energy here! It’s fuller than the heaviest on Lisbon (thanks to producer Phil Ek?), but unfortunately things take a cheesy turn with the “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” at the end. I don’t really see a need for those.

Heartbreaker” -Now we’re talking. In place of the classic organ is a second guitar. I really like this. The drum crashes, the eternally winding surf guitar on the bridge. Good work, Walkmen! [KLYAM Recommended]

“We Can’t Be Beat” – Ouch. Not truly a disaster, in fact I see a lot of people really love this, but just not my thing at all. At one point in my life I got a little something out of listening to Fleet Foxes. Those days are pretty much gone (with all due respect) so to hear something like this that’s essentially the same thing as a Fleet Foxes song is a little disheartening. The Walkmen can do better. See “Heartbreaker”.

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