For a whole decade now, The Walkmen have been gracing your ears with their jangly rock music. Now, when I say that, I truly mean it; this band makes albums that linger in your music collection for long periods of time, seemingly timeless in their nature. Earlier albums proved rugged and loose, running wild with youthfulness and spunk, but as I said before, it’s been ten years, lead singer Hamilton Leithauser and company have grown up, and so has their music. Heaven is a testament to this, as the band brings you a different kind of rock album.
Right out of the gate, it’s clear to see the direction in which The Walkmen have decided to go with this seventh studio full-length release. “We Can’t Be Beat,” meanders its way to start, with Leithauser crooning along to some gentle guitar plucking, with sporadic “oohs” floating through the background. Even as the song picks up a bit at the end, the lushness is ever apparent through the use of layered vocals and delicate percussive elements. This lush sound is a general theme of the album, carrying through most of the songs in some shape or form. It’s extra present on some of the later tracks like “No One Ever Sleeps,” that focus on the vocals. A number on the slower side, it comes across as a bit of a lullaby with more billowy and wispy “oohs” that work their way through the lead. The song is gentle and sweet, juxtaposing Leithauser’s sharp voice with the softness of the backing instrumentation.
This group doesn’t have the same reckless abandon that they did when they first started out, but would you really want them to after ten years? A bunch of thirty-something year old guys who all have kids trying to act like kids? No, that would be silly and out of place. Instead, this band has a healthy alternative that still packs a punch for old fans. Songs like title track “Heaven” and “Heartbreaker,” incorporate old with new and are straight up catchy tunes. “Heartbreaker” is a song found early on the record that gets things moving with those rolling drums and hooky guitars, while “Heaven” is a summery sounding number that will have you tapping your toes. There will always be those who reminisce of the old days of this band when they put out jams like “Rat,” but there are acceptable rock songs on this effort as well.
Yes, it’s a grown up record, but by no means is it a snoozer. The Walkmen have made growing up something cool and envied, riding upon the waves of their musical and personal successes. They relish in their coming of age with grace, inviting you to come along for the ride. So join in with them and enjoy the beauty in Heaven.