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The Walkmen have had more false starts than 100m heats at the Olympic Games so it a happy event to report that Hamilton Leithauser and his band of troubadours from New York have finally nailed the damn thing to the post and decided to move out of the garage. In their ten years of making music we have had massive highlights like "The Rat" one of the greatest rock songs to be pressed to vinyl, the roaring post punk hand grenade of an album that is "Bows + Arrows" and the moody incendiary magnificence of their return to form album 2008's "You and Me". We have also had some pretty poor fare to deal with not least their third album "A Hundred Miles Off" and sense that the Walkmen might have missed their big chance. So it's wonderful that "Lisbon" proclaims a very loud "au contraire" to the doubters and presents a band at the top of their game.

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".
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on 29 March 2011
Like many people, following the wonders of Bows and Arrows, I felt that the Walkmen were descending into indie obscurity due to the mediocrity of their follow-up material. You and Me may have raised the bar slightly but generally, I remained convinced that their best work was already behind them. How wrong can one man be???

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.
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on 15 January 2011
I rarely leave reviews because basically i'm far too lazy. When i see how crimally underated this band appear to be i thought i would have to rectify that situation.
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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 September 2011
I have only come to The Walkmen relatively recently, but now regard them as one of the most original bands around, certainly in the loosely defined 'indie' category. The sparseness, and yet undoubted beauty, of their sound reminds me of Marquee Moon era Television (one of the great albums). The vocal style of Hamilton Leithauser is an acquired taste, but one which I have definitely acquired. The intensity and passion of his voice is unparalleled amongst current bands, I would say. I have not yet delved into their material before You and Me (but perhaps will do so), but I consider that album, and even more so the Lisbon album to be full of great melodies which (as with all great albums) grow and grow with each listening.
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on 25 March 2016
Another great album to go with You & Me and Heaven. Somehow I've neglected these three brilliant albums but putting that right at the mo. A wonderful voice allied to wonderful raw guitar playing & exciting drumming. I can't tell you how fantastic these albums sound through the very best headphones, makes their cost totally worthwhile.
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
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on 29 July 2011
A fan of these guys since "the rat" era and they just do not ever disappoint. This album has been stuck in my head, on my ears, in my psyche, for weeks now and it just will not let go. I was recently considering upgrading my old mp3 player as it was maxed out to it's 30GB limit. No need now as this seems to be the only album I want to listen to, every spare moment I have. Do yourself a favour - own this wonderful piece of music and everything else around you might just start to seem a little warmer, somehow fuzzier-edged and golden-tinged.... "woe is me" indeed!
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on 16 September 2011
Another brilliant album by the Walkmen.Not a bad song on here. Hamilton Leithauser, or however you spell it, is the driving force behind it all
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on 12 October 2010
How do you describe the indescribable? How do you describe the sound of an 'indie-rock' band that no longer sounds like 'indie-rock'? How do you describe a genre-busting sound that accommodates mariachi horns, easy listening and Velvets style art-rock? How do you describe the fragile beauty and wonderful melodies that are scattered through this album? How do you describe Hamilton Leithauser's voice that has mellowed into a croon and, yet, has become even more scarily intense? How his voice hits notes flawlessly and yet still manages to retain that vocal chord stripping growl that has, over the Walkmen's career, gradually been tempered. How you describe the marvellous, cliché-free guitar, organ and piano playing of Paul Maroon and Pete Bauer, whose tuneful and subtle dynamism underpins much of Lisbon? How do you describe the bass playing of Walter Martin and drumming of Matt Barrick whose slinky and skittering rhythms somehow meld all these components into a wonderful whole? I may not be able to describe the indescribable but I can state with hand on heart that this thrilling album is another Walkmen masterpiece.
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on 4 September 2011
Lisbon is streets ahead of what most bands could produce but it falls slightly short of the Walkmen's own standards.

I recently introduced a friend of mine to the Walkmen, lending him Lisbon first, and he loved it. The point is: Lisbon is a very good album but people who have heard their albums in chronological order might think "I've heard all this before".

The term "tight band" could never be applied to the Walkmen. Part of the pleasure of early Walkmen albums, i.e. 'Bows and Arrows' & 'A Hundred Miles Off' was that the songs were so scruffy and unpredictable. Songs walked a tightrope between chaos and chaotic brilliance. There was tension, but there were always hints that the Walkmen were capable of a masterpiece. This made them riveting to listen to.

That's where 'You and Me' came in. It was a Walkmen album with all the bad bits taken out, an album full of huge, emotional hits. It was the album they'd always threatened to make and the album their fans always wanted them to make. It's wonderful.

Lisbon has neither the unpredictability or their early albums, nor does it knock your socks off with its emotional power, like 'You & me'. It's just not a very surprising album. It's steady, classy, but it doesn't make you want to run out into the street and scream "YOU'VE GOT TO HEAR THIS!!" at passers by. It's basically 'You & Me, Mark 2' and sequels are rarely better than originals. The first two tracks are brilliant, but the Walkmen need to have a rethink for their next album.
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on 3 August 2011
Not much more to say I suppose. This album really grew on me, at first I was not overly impressed, but now I love it.
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