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Friday, June 15, 2012

The Walkmen - 'Heaven'

Fat Possum / Bella Union 2012
Our Take - 8.4
Written by Greg H. - June 15th, 2012

Starting out as a very scrappy, explosive, and in-your-face type band the Walkmen have grown up. With their seventh LP, Heaven, they seem to be comfortable with their growth, satisfied with their positions and absolutely content.

Heaven is a celebratory album of the phases of life the band have been through, and conquered. The members have all been settling down, getting married, having children and are completely satisfied with where they have landed. They feel content with their new lives, and display it with their album-opener "We Can't Be Beat." Leithauser's first words "I was the Duke of Earl, but it couldn't last / I was the Pony Express but ran out of gas," explain life at a crossroads, in need of some desperate change. The next few verses reinforce this idea, until the song comes to halt and Leithauser delivers the ultimate sentiment of contentment , "It's been so long but I made it through / We can't be beat."

The album continues on with many shimmering guitars, riffs that bring one back several decades, and subtle keys that occasionally explode with energy. "The Witch" comes off as a real nasty, devil-woman rock song, backed by the quick bursts of a powerful organ. The guitar ballad-based "Line by Line" is perfect for a late evening drive into the horizon and title track "Heaven" is one of the best songs they've put to record with it's persistent snare hits and desperation in the lines of the chorus.“Don’t leave me, you’re my best friend/All of my life, you’ve always been.”

Heaven continues to produce songs that are nearly impossible to get out of your head such as "Song for Leigh" and in the latter half of the album with "The Love You Love" and the title track "Heaven." Even with the catchiness of these songs, the album stays original and feels like a breath of fresh air. The vocal delivery and the lyrics come off as the most impressive, and are the focus of the album.

As they've reached the middle of their lives, it's hard to see where the Walkmen will go from here. This could be the beginning of a new era, or the bittersweet ending of a band that will go down as one of the premiere American indie rock bands. All in all, they have put together some of their finest work on 'Heaven', and the future looks promising if they choose to go in that direction. After 12 years of "scrapping by", it appears that the Walkmen have found themselves happy, contented, and comfortable.

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