The Walkmen – You & Me
A few years back The Walkmen released an amazing sophomore album in Bows and Arrows, but as time has gone the by and by, the band has found it difficult to reclaim the strength of that album. Now, a few albums later, they were supposed to come back at us with everything back in place. Unfortunately for us, and more so for them, You & Me doesn’t get anywhere near that point.
In reading promotional information on their label’s web site, it said they wanted to approach the similar styling of bands such as The Modern Lovers, featuring Jonathon Richman. Upon listening to this album, you can tell that they did indeed approach that style, with the vocals put in the front of the mix, meant to carry along the songs.
The sad part is that Richman has a voice, that although not the greatest, still has the ability to carry his entire band along through his vocals. The Walkmen, in their attempt to take a similar approach, don’t quite achieve, which falls upon Hamilton Leithauser. His Dyalnesque leanings just don’t quite hold up to the songs, rendering the majority of this effort kind of pointless. It’s one thing to reference Orbison, Holly and Elvis in a press release, but it’s an entirely different thing to pull it off.
For me, the fault of the band is not so much their reliance upon Hamilton’s vocals, but their lackluster performance as his backing band. The music on this album just doesn’t seem to have a great deal of enthusiasm, nor does it get anymore creative than their previous efforts. In all honesty, their just isn’t a lot to hold on to musically, which does achieve the purpose of making us listen closer to Leithauser. I just don’t understand how there isn’t any effort in the music.
The one redeeming factor for this album could be in the song “In The New Year,” which was one of the first songs that they released to the public. It’s jangling guitar lines do add to this song, and the percussion is pretty solid, but they misstep when they claim “its going to be a good year.” I can’t imagine how putting out a record like this will make it a good year, but I’ve been wrong before.
For those of you who have never strayed away from the band during their tenure, you will probably find some redeeming qualities to this album, especially when it comes to some of their reference points. But, the majority of us, who have stood in the stands watching the band with skepticism, will continue to watch from afar in hopes that they one day recapture their long-lost magic.