The Walkmen – You & Me

The Walkmen
You & Me

Let’s make one quick distinction, The Walkmen are much more than a hit song (“The Rat”.) And though that song certainly jump started the accolades and attention they so richly deserved, this is a genuinely bad-ass band. Ironic it is that that style of rocker, loose and vibrant, flamboyant and spunky, is nowhere to be found on the New York City-based band’s fourth album, You & Me. What’s remarkable about it all is that it doesn’t need it, fleshing out a much mellower, laid-back sound and style; this is the band’s best album to date.

Take one look at “Flamingos (for Colbert).” Here is a tender, somber, electric guitar driven melody. At just over a minute long, it’s a reflective interlude that showcases the band’s raw musicianship. Droning organ backdrops the guitar’s lackadaisical prowler and it wonderfully leads into the jumpy feel of “On the Water.” Hamilton Leithauser’s voice has never sounded better—so prosperous, so playful, so powerful—it almost acts as another instrument to the band’s use of vintage pianos and guitars. And things have never sounded as good as they do on “In the New Year.” All of the band’s musical genius comes full circle with an organ-enriched chorus and guitars that buzz with feedback. Leithauser lets loose as he belts out lyrics about starting over, in the new year.

They couldn’t have chosen a more obvious title; this is obviously a love album. Besides the fact that the lyrics highlight tales of warm feelings shared between lovers of all kinds, the music paired with it only adds to that sentiment. What The Walkmen have been able to do is create a beautiful atmosphere of crashing, tumbling music and heartfelt, sometimes bitter but mostly lovely words. Things aren’t as fittingly put as they are on the fantastic “Red Moon”: “And I see you now, and you shine like the steel on my knife…I miss you, I miss you, there’s no one else.”

“Seven Years of Holidays (for Stretch)” is brightly strung along with flourishing strings and march-style drumming that energetically parades around. Leithauser deeply retails a story about disappointment on the album’s terrific opener, “Dónde está la Playa,” as he sings, “I know that you’re married, ring’s on your hand, so I didn’t stay ‘til the end.”

The album’s majestic brilliance reveals itself through subtle perfections that appear with repeated listens. This is the kind of album that will latch onto your heart from the second you put the needle to the groove. Whether it is the boss nova tap and shake of “Four Provinces” as Leithauser sings about friends and “the next time I see you at Sophia’s place, we’ll fall right back in line,” the gloomy tale of “I Lost You” that Leithauser sings with “We kissed goodbye and drank up, I’ll miss you when you’re gone,” or Matt Barrick’s (who’s is gradually becoming one of the best drummers out there) perfect skill on “Postcards from Tiny Islands,” there is just so much to simply love about You & Me.

Everything is a melting pot of gifted musicians making gorgeously crafted music. The charming music of the album’s closer appropriately catches what makes this album excellent: the enchanting music, enthralling lyrics and Leithauser’s bittersweet voice. Leithauser wishes to be asked to return to her as he sings, “If only it was true, I’d say I do,” don’t worry, you will want to say I do to The Walkmen’s near-perfect album, You & Me.