The Walkmen
You & Me


4.5
superb

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
January 5th, 2009 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Leithauser and co. show a stunning breadth and depth of emotion and do the best to coax that out of their instruments on what may be their best effort yet.

The Walkmen are a lot like the Phillip Seymour Hoffmans’ or the Gary Oldmans’ of the indie-rock world: quietly making excellent, groundbreaking music in a style that is undeniably theirs, raking in the critical acclaims and slowly accumulating fans with each album, but never really achieving mass fame and fortune like some of their peers. 2004’s Bows + Arrows was the closest the band ever came to reaching mainstream success, the record’s defiant attitude encapsulated in single “The Rat,” which made its way onto teen drama The O.C. and a video game. The Walkmen may be decidedly older, but You & Me contains enough vintage gems and choice lyrical insights to prove that their best days are not yet behind them, even though they don’t still go drunkenly around New York boldly giving everyone the finger.

“Donde Esta la Playa” starts off with a slow burning bass line and scattershot drums that sound submerged, alternating with a discordant, jangly guitar riff and singer Hamilton Leithauser’s whiskey-soaked vocals careening through a story about a one night stand. Leithauser has always been the make-or-break point for newcomers to the Walkmen; either you enjoy his Rod Stewart-esque roughness or it quickly becomes grating. On You & Me, his voice doesn’t to run as rampant as it did on A Hundred Miles Off, and his unique tone tends to complement a song’s mood rather than overshadow it.

Skipping over the throwaway instrumental track “Flamingos (for Colbert),” “On The Water” is another track that starts off slow, with a simple syncopated beat and a guitar swirling in the background supporting some of the Walkmen’s most surprisingly earnest, responsible lyrics yet: “Oh, you know I’d never leave you / no matter how I try . . . and that’s just how it is.” The Walkmen are growing up, and it’s heartfelt without sounding maudlin.

The music picks up as the record goes on, from the Pogues-ish rock and hopeful sentiments of “In The New Year” to the rollicking drums and wistful guitar on “Seven Years of Holidays (for Stretch).” The Walkmen have long been known for their penchant for old recording equipment and vintage instruments, and the care they put into every one of their albums is just as clear on You & Me. The production is practically flawless; just listen to the beautiful piano and swelling horns on “Red Moon” or the in-the-studio vibe that soft drums, percussive cracks, and haunting piano of “Canadian Girl.” The Walkmen have done something few producers and even fewer bands can accomplish: creating a studio record that sounds like a live one.

A few songs falter along the way: “Postcards from Tiny Islands,” while starting off promisingly with a hypnotic guitar line and a quiet thunder of drum rolls in the background, the song’s alternation between its quieter beginning and a louder chorus turn the guitar into an annoying buzz and Leithauser’s singing into unintelligible wailing. “Long Time Ahead Of Us” is nearly too slow for its own good and too long by half, losing the listener’s interest before anything worthwhile can come of it. And the worst song of the bunch, the aptly named “New Country,” chugs dutifully along to Leithauser’s tear-in—my-beer laments and a repetitive guitar progression that acts like it’s going to go somewhere but never really does.

But when the Walkmen do it right, they don’t mess around, and on You & Me, they hit it the right notes with stunning regularity. The cheery bar-hopping party vibe of “Four Provinces” (one of the record’s best), the vibrant strings on “The Blue Route,” the palpable nostalgia of closer “If Only It Were True,” all of the songs combine to create an album that may have a few missteps (hey, Hoffman had Along Came Polly), but, all in all, is another fantastic effort by an underrated band.



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user ratings (120)
Chart.
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
kingsoby1
Emeritus
January 5th 2009


4970 Comments


You write very good indie/rock reviews... I like that you describe the music, yet stray away from specifics and musical technical terminology (good for indie, since it's typically a bit more simplistic).

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2009


11776 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks! It's pretty much the genre I have the most experience in, although I do hip/hop and pop every so often and electronica occasionally. And when I like an album this much it's pretty easy to write well haha

Digging: Violents and Monica Martin - Awake and Pretty Much Sober

Yotimi
January 5th 2009


7395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

To me, they sound a lot like Bob Dylan plus more instruments and a fuller sound. Anyway, "In the new Year" was one of my favorite songs last year. Good Review.

AggravatedYeti
January 5th 2009


7684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is a very good write up. I wanna give the album a proper listen and then come back to this.

I bought it at their show in Atlanta back in April -- it's been sitting on my desk for ages...oops.



HailToTheThief
March 22nd 2009


144 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

eh, this album is nothing to write home about.

Kiran
Emeritus
August 8th 2009


6023 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

in the new year and seven years of holidays are amazing

Digging: Paul Simon - Graceland

ECRbubs
January 3rd 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love the shit out of this album!

qwer7yfreak
January 3rd 2011


486 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

OMG, a five. Nice to meet you, sir!

ECRbubs
January 3rd 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

;D happy new year! this album contains the best new year's song of all time

qwer7yfreak
January 3rd 2011


486 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Definitely! In The New Year is just so good. The Walkmen are so under-appreciated 'round these parts.

ECRbubs
January 3rd 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

agreed. this is in my top 10 of the decade. I wasn't blown away by them live though...

qwer7yfreak
January 3rd 2011


486 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Damn, that's too bad. When did you see them?

ECRbubs
April 9th 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

September of '09. Thinking of a Dream I had was stunning, the rest was just solid I guess

juiceviaorange
December 30th 2012


572 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this disc

Digging: Glassjaw - Material Control

juiceviaorange
January 12th 2013


572 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This record makes me feel more important every day I exist

Gyromania
April 2nd 2014


23771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

their last three albums are all masterpieces

Gyromania
November 23rd 2014


23771 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i lost you < 3

AdolfChrist
February 11th 2016


13586 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ha, just heard Red Moon on Breaking Bad.

Digging: Swarms - Black Chapel Sun



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