Album Stream: The Walkmen – Heaven

NPR has a full album stream of The Walkmen’s new album, HeavenListeners can tackle the album in all its 47-minute glory, or go track-by-track. It satiates our appetites a bit before its May 29th release date.

The band had released three tracks prior to now. Last month it was the self-titled cut, and just a week later the excellent “Heartbreaker“. Two weeks ago we got the joyous and crispy-clean “We Can’t Be Beat”. That one wasn’t quite as stripped-down as the twangy “Your Southern Soul”, another Heaven slow-churner. Yet it was still lush; the introduction of “We Can’t Be Beat” relies solely on trickling acoustics and Leithauser’s vocals. The sound is initially more restrained than usual, making Leithauser’s voice even more prominent, and less buried behind guitars like on most Walkmen tracks. But when he lets out a big “Ohhh-ohhhh” proclamation about mid-way through (02:40), and the track picks up steam, it resembles what we know and love from The Walkmen — with a bit more perkiness and optimism than usual. Their sound woke up a bit.

You do everything you can to sound different, but in the end you always sound like the band you are,” frontman Hamilton Leithauser said of the album. “We’ve done a lot of rock in the past, and Phil has made the new stuff rock really hard.” Guitarist/pianist Paul Maroon also spoke highly of Phil Ek’s production: ”There can be something brittle about our sound. He made it just a little bit warmer, a little bit stronger. When I play it in my car, it sounds strong, which I love.”

Also revealed was that Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold sings harmonies on two songs on the album, one being ”No One Ever Sleeps”. That all members of The Walkmen are parents now seems related to their maturation process. ”I’m very proud of what we’ve done. We’ve stayed friends and those friendships have grown,” said bassist Peter Bauer. “We have survival experience and real love that children generate in your life.”

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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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