[O]ver the course of 6 studio albums, The Walkmen have always managed to reinvent themselves with each release. Their latest, Heaven, is certainly a departure from the rest. This is no group of young, messy rockers. They’re dads now. Reliable. Consistent. The guys have mellowed out. This is the new Walkmen sound, and it works.
There is no shortage of beautiful and surprising moments on this album. The first track off the album, We Can’t Be Beat, is a slow starting track that you almost think is over before it picks up, swelling with lead singer Hamilton Leithauser’s voice. You’d probably miss it if you didn’t know to listen for it, but the harmonizing during the length of the track? That’s Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold joining in on the fun.
Leithauser himself shines brightest on the tracks where he belts out verses with almost tangible emotion. You can hear it on most of the tracks, but on Song for Leigh, a track penned for his daughter, you can hear it in the lyrics: “and I sing myself sick, I sing myself sick, I sing myself sick about you,” he bellows through the chorus.
Another surprise, a little more than halfway through the album is the minute-and-a-half long Jerry Jr’s Tune, which is a slow burning track that stands out on the album as neither a upbeat rock track nor a jangling ballad. But this track is also beautiful, the faint harmonies seeming to be best suited to score a foggy sunrise.
And naturally, the album picks up from there. From slow and steady to rocking beats, The Love You Love, is probably the best example of the Walkmen’s strength. During the chorus, Leithauser’s plea is both heartbreaking and freeing. “Baby it’s the love you love, not me.”
In the last 12 years, the Walkmen have earned their keep as one of indie rock’s best bands. But quite simply, Heaven, is the perfect Walkmen sound we never knew we were missing. Thank god it’s here though, right?