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New Walkmen album


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I'm not sure how long this has been out, but it appeared on my radar last night. As far as I'm concerned their first two albums are untouchable, and are even better for the fact they can be cast in opposition to each other - the first for its clipped, spiked economy of texture, and the second for it's layered, chilled, gritty patina (yes I did just use that word).

This one I haven't listened to enough yet, but (perhaps inevitably) I seem to be warming to it. I find it doesn't take much time at all for me to get into an album these days, but even so this one seemed a bit jarring at first. Which can pretty much soley be attributed to Hamilton Leithhauser and his "unique" singing style. His performances seemed a bit by-the-numbers at first. That'd be a real shame as he can be one of the most expressive, engaging singers out there. I've listened a few more times, and I've noticed more and more detail and life in his deliveries (and in the music as a whole) than I did the first time. Actually, I think this can partly be attributed to what I'm listening to - a dodgy 192 kbps mp3. That and the forwardness of the production mean that its difficult at first to take notice of anything but the central aspects of the songwriting. The thing about 'Bows + Arrows' is that after the initial impact of the tracks has subsided, you realise that its in the subtleties of performance, interplay and texture that the band's true strength resides, and that a copy of the CD is the only genuine way of listening to it all. This is most obvious in something like 'What's in it for me', but it also provides the foundation for 'The rat' and 'Little house of savages'.

There's nothing as instantly (or enduringly) effective as 'The rat' here, by the way. But then you can't follow something like that up, can you? The songwriting's certainly more brash and loose-sounding, which perhaps precludes tracks like that. Whether this style has it's own individual intensity like that of 'Bows + Arrows' I'm not sure about yet. I certainly hope so.

So, this is where you all tell me you've never heard of them.

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