REVIEW: The Walkmen – “Lisbon”

The Walkmen / Lisbon / Fat Possum

Much has been said about the ‘expansive’ new sound captured by the indie rock quintet The Walkmen on this release, but the sparse and just-a-little-empty sounding Lisbon sounds as though it could have been captured by a trio. Maybe the other guys in the band were having smokes or handing out waters, who knows, but that’s not to say the disc lacks redeeming qualities. There’s a rare bite in the voice of singer/guitarist Hamilton Leithauser capable of turning sorrowful lyrics into ones rife with resentment and bitterness. On “Stranded”, with help from some turn of the (twentieth) century brass, it’s not hard to picture the singer as a broken down ex-patriot street musician in the titular Portuguese capital – something right out of Hemingway.

It is tough to pick out a bold, rocking track from Lisbon, as the atmosphere and emotional build up in songs such as “Victory” and “Angela Surf City” ensure that you don’t hear much drums or driving rhythm until about a third of the way through. After that, the album suffers what can only be referred to as a refusal to die. There are no more swelling trumpets, and only scant amounts of the quiet fury that seemed to be building in the opening tracks. All that’s left are a fistful of lonely beach guitar riffs and some vocal lines that make you wish you could sing like that.

Download: “Blue As Your Blood”, “Stranded”

2 Comments

  • Tarah says:

    luv that Hemingway reference

  • brodouche says:

    Not an ‘expansive’ sound, this is the sound The Walkmen have been using since day one, this album is almost an expansion of You & Me.

    As for a trio, they are. Musically its guitar, bass, drum, maybe Hamilton was having a smoke break between vocal tracks??

    The only track that is relatively atypical to The Walkmen is Stranded, but the structure of the song still follows the same formula.

    Good album, not great. You & Me>Lisbon.

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