|New from||Used from|
Audio CD, 11 Oct 2010
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Let’s play a little word association. "The Walkmen"… "The Rat". It’s an immediate response. A reflex. A justifiably clichéd answer eternally associated with the band despite the fact they’re now six albums and a decade in. It’s still, undeniably, the hallmark, and often the brooding benchmark, The Walkmen are held against.
So, the resonant post-punk power of The Rat might will always hold a sentimental sway – from the black and white claustrophobia of the video to Hamilton Leithauser’s embittered voice, seething and beseeching some unknown soul – but The Walkmen have been steadfast in their move from the dark, driven post-punk of the Bows + Arrows era.
Whereas 2006’s A Hundred Miles Off was a step too far, a decisive attempt to distance themselves from their monochrome past, what we heard on 2008’s You & Me was altogether more promising. Hinged on a slight return to their more miserable past without disregarding the positive steps they’d taken to boldly move forward, it arguably set the foundation for the rising majesty of Lisbon.
Make no mistake, Lisbon is a grandstand album, a conclusion of what The Walkmen have been striving for these last three years. It’s rich and rewarding, Leithauser’s vocal emerging slightly stylised and crooning, adding weight and purpose to flickering guitar melodies and occasionally sparse backing but raging and soaring at all the right moments.
It’s a prolonged transition that’s ultimately, eventually served them spectacularly well with the maligned mariachi influences they tried to incorporate on A Hundred Miles Off selected and tempered to wonderfully waltzing effect, the bright eyed ditty-ish Woe is Me and album opener, Juveniles setting the warm, sepia-tinged tone for the album.
But where The Walkmen were once the urban soundtrack for turning up your coat collar and aimlessly wandering city streets, Leithauser’s presence and confidence theatrically insists otherwise. Like an addict convincing you that "everything’s okay" there’s still all the past doubt and dejection simpering in there somewhere; but it’s easier to buy into the sunny side up attitude when it’s as exultant and forceful as they’ve made it here.
Bluntly, Lisbon is a collation and culmination of their finest work in years. Rather than a selection of scattered snapshots, this time we’ve got the bigger picture. And it’s irresistible.--Reef Younis
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top customer reviews
Not that this album has the raw power of some of their earlier work or their trademark full frontal attack, but that can be deceptive on deeper listens. Indeed "Lisbon" like the Portuguese Capital is in many respects superficially a bright affair on which we have glorious surf punk anthems ("Angela Surf City" which is possibly their best song since "The rat"), surreal Johnny Cash like alt country rockers (the brilliant "Blue as your blood") and epic spiky slow burn rock ballads ("Torch song" and "All my great designs"). Equally this is more than ever an album where Leithauser's vocals dominate and the singing style is now very much his own property forever laying to rest the former accusations of a Dylan copyist.
It would not be The Walkmen however if some dark undercurrents didn't come to the forefront and on the lovely and wry lament "While I shovel snow" which Leithauser sings beautifully he regrets that "half of my life I've been watching, half of my life I've been waking up". Dejection has always been a Walkmen specially and "Woe is me" tips a nod to fellow New Yorkers the Strokes but also proves that Leithauser recent crash course in Sun Records rockabilly has paid off. "Stranded" alternatively starts off with slow horns and actually sounds like a traditionally based almost Felice Brothers style song, it is very big highlight on an album packed with them.
"Lisbon" is the Walkmen's sixth album and during the past ten years there have been times when "travelling the journey" with this band has been a difficult and questionable affair. It is because of this that "Lisbon" taken together with "You and Me" is such a triumph, indeed it worth echoing the words of the wonderful American music blog Stereogum which rightly states that "The Walkmen have gotten so good at what they do, it's easy enough to overlook the complexity of what it is they're creating." Thus in "Victory" which is a song with distant echoes of the Clash during their Sandinista era the Walkmen announce that "Victory should be mine" to which this reviewers response is "well done you've achieved it".
This is a work of awe-inspiring beauty and sincerity. It's tone is introspective and spiritual whilst never straying into tepid sentimentality. The vocals soar as always (Leithauser melds rugged indie journeyman with vulnerable troubadour to mind-blowing effect) but what really impresses are the shimmering production values alongside the judicious use of sparse instrumentation to maximum effect. Take the adventurous use of a brass section on Stranded or the melancholic piano on While I Shovel The Snow. It all works in a way which draws the listener into an intimate relationship with this album, a relationship which any other Walkmen release has failed to achieve (even the intrepid Bows and Arrows).
It is perhaps notable that The Walkmen released this album through Bella Union, a label whose quality remains a high watermark in modern indie circles. They have brought the best out of this prodigiously talented band and not before time. I hope that this is a beacon of things to come and that future releases by The Walkmen will incur the same delightful response.
I have been delighted to see the National finally getting the recognition their amazing body of work deserves this year. I think the Walkmen should be put in the exact same boat.Both bands have a great back catalouge and only seem to be going from strengh to strengh with their latest offerings.
Lisbon is easily a contender for album of the year.There just isn't bands out there making music that is capable of moving you the way The Walkmens Lisbon does.
It has a perect combination of uplifting songs and melancholy numbers that will leave you wanting to go and replay the album from start to finish over and over again!!
In short Lisbon is a gorgeous album by a band at the height of it's powers that deserves to be heard and loved.
I don't begrudge Adele her deserved success, have the 1st two albums & will buy the 3rd when it's cheaper) but there being 3,488 reviews on Amazon of 25 and only 10-12 reviews of these three Walkmen albums highlights what is wrong in the music industry.
System (computer) Audioquest Dragonfly v 1.2 with Audioquest Jitterbug + AKG K812 Reference headphones. DAP = Cowon Plenue 1
Most recent customer reviews