The Walkmen : Heaven
A recent historical analysis – the name and author of which sadly eludes me – took a critical axe to nostalgic assessment of the morality of generations past. The book’s central thesis was that successive generations have constructed the previous era as containing a robust moral code subsequently undermined by wanton social, political, legal and economic changes. In reality there has never been a definitive utopian social order, merely a series of revisionist constructions that reflect subjective personal and philosophical preferences.
That said – and it’s something to bear in mind the next time some old fart tells you anything was better ‘back in the old days’ – The Walkmen have a unique ability to contrive a world in which music was an intrinsic part of the social fabric, rather than a tool of artistic self-indulgence and commercial exploitation.
And it’s all over The Walkmen’s new record Heaven, like a rash bred out of existence by an overdose of contemporary corporate antibiotics. The acoustic simplicity of We Can’t Be Beat is soft to the aural touch and Love Is Luck is the teenage dream we’d all love to re-live. Heartbreaker is a dirty garage track buffed into pop form like a reformed greaser graduating from finishing school, The Witch is as confronting as the Toot Toot Toots dressed to the nines in tuxedos and cummerbunds and Song For Leigh is everything a childhood lament should be, including post-indie melody and literary bent.
On Jerry Jr’s Tune, The Walkmen take a nocturnal walk with Link Wray and find hitherto unchartered synergies. On The Love You Love, the motor’s revving, the foot’s flat to the floor and the car’s flying down the open road on a quest to embrace the spacious wonder of life. No One Ever Sleeps is a late-night high school dance to a fading Ricky Nelson while The House You Made (one of two bonus tracks on the Australian release) is The Scientists’ Shine rendered in its most elegant southern guise.
It’s not just The Walkmen’s predilection for vintage instruments, which manages to conjure up the sonic aesthetic of a '50s music hall, nor singer Hamilton Leithauser’s emotive vocal style. It’s just talent, and it’s heavenly.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: Heartbreaker
If You Like This, You’ll like These: THE HOUSEMARTINS, RICKY NELSON and driving old jalopies.
In A Word: Whimsical