Sep 012010
 
Authors: Nic Turiciano

The best art moves you, makes you feel something the way that its creator felt when he or she made it. It’s a rare quality, but it’s the only one that really matters when it comes to longevity.

Hamilton Leithauser has this gift. He’s been yelping and belting his innermost frustrations on The Walkmen albums for years with a success that most rock and rollers of Leithauser’s nature will never find.

The rest of The Walkmen lay down tight, emotionally wrought arrangements that match up perfectly with Leithauser’s words. It’s a combination that has created songs like “The Rat” and “Little House of Savages,” easily two of the best rock songs of the last 10 years.

So for their sixth studio album, my hopes were high. It’s not to say that it’s a let down, because the album certainly has its moments. “Woe is Me” has the classic Walkmen sound with Leithauser letting his voice soar over the catchy, guitar-driven sounds.  

In fact, the instrumentation on this album is beautiful. South-of–the-Border guitar licks pepper nearly every track. Driving bass lines braided through four on the floor drumbeats make this album an interesting listen.

Sadly, The Walkmen’s strength throughout their career comes off as the weakness on this album. Leithauser just doesn’t have his mojo.

“Stranded” is the first single off of “Lisbon,” and it is one of the few instances when Leithauser’s vocals ring as true as they do on The Walkmen’s best songs. Telling, though, is the song’s first line. Leithauser sings, “Throw another dime in me my friend, and I’ll sing a song I know for you.”

When despondency is the only emotion that you can convey with conviction, then something might be wrong.
This album makes a perfect jukebox addition. It doesn’t burn as brightly as previous efforts, but even when The Walkmen get it wrong, they’re still better than whatever was in the CD player before them.

Music reviewer Nic Turiciano can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:37 pm

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