The Walkmen - Lisbon
On Lisbon, it sounds like the Walkmen haven’t made much of a change in their instrumentation, arrangement, recording equipment, vocal techniques, or songwriting since their last album, You & Me. That’s okay, though – You & Me was a near-perfect piece of work, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Not every band needs Radiohead-style artistic growth between albums.
The first eight tracks could be outtakes from the You & Me recording sessions: the same tinkling guitars, hesitant percussion, and regret-tinged singing from frontman Hamilton Leithauser. Of these songs, ‘Juveniles’ and ‘Victory’ offer the most compelling evidence that the Walkmen made the right decision by sticking with what works
And then something weird happens: about halfway through Lisbon’s eighth track, ‘Woe Is Me,’ the band steps back musically to showcase a repeated, sorrowful guitar line and suddenly the song changes from being good to put-it-on-repeat amazing. The next track, ‘Torch Song,’ builds on this momentum, making the band sound like they’re playing to a ballroom that’s empty except for one sad couple swaying drunkenly in the middle of the dance floor. Two late-in-the-game standouts that elevate Lisbon into being something more than a simple rehash.
If you liked You & Me, you’ll like this. If you’ve never listened to You & Me, this would be a good introduction to the band, since you won’t constantly be comparing Lisbon to earlier albums.
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