Walk Like a Man, Sing Like a Legend
No one wants to admit their first taste of indie outfit The Walkmen was during the 2nd season of “The O.C.,” while wishing Adam Brody, in all his awkward, shaggy-haired glory, would escort you to The Bait Shop for a daiquiri and a hand-holding session. Actually, maybe that’s not such a horrendous confession. Who knows? What fans do know is that The Walkmen, especially singer Hamilton Leithauser, have changed a great deal. But was it for the best? You & Me proved to be a departure from their garage-meets-post-punk Bows + Arrows.
You & Me incorporates an earthy, ambient soundscape fit for a winter king despite its summer release. The track “On the Water” chugs along a soft folk stomp held together by a chilling bassline. Gone is Leithauser’s impression of a less-tired Julian Casablancas; enter a slightly more energetic Bob Dylan.
“In the New Year” sparks a little optimism, after a dark but mellow start, as a pop sing-a-long meant to wake up many a drunken fool at the local pub. A strained Leithauser belts a soulful note or two to add to that “good time” appeal. It’s quite the relative pick-me-up.
Songs like “Postcards from Tiny Islands” and “Four Islands” indulge in the ever-popular “boom-taka-taka” drum beat a la Animal Collective, Friendly Fires or any recent indie release with a tribal-esque sound – latin percussion n’ all. Although it’s nice to hear The Walkmen keeping up with their contemporaries, it would’ve been great to go a day or two knowing a band birthed at the start of the decade isn’t trying too hard to assimilate. The album as a whole almost seems like such an effort.
Every band nowadays seems to drop a release filled with simmered-down riffs, acoustic ballads, and folksy tributes to Dylan and the like. You & Me is an honest attempt at such an album, but is quite seamless in its influences. This is pure Walkmen, but the Walkmen that decided to grow a little older. The album closes with “If Only It Were True,” a jukebox slow dance waiting to happen. Only, it is true. The Walkmen have created something quite charming and colorful.