Wednesday 18 January 2017

Music: The Walkmen ***

Lisbon (Bella Union)

Published 15/10/2010 | 05:00

Several songs on the East Coast Americans' fifth album were written during frequent visits to the Portuguese capital of the title, but it's hard to detect an Iberian influence in the music.

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Still, the quintet were in productive mood and of the original 29 songs recorded, 11 make the cut here.

The Walkmen's ascent up the indie ladder has been a laborious one, although the jagged, impassioned brilliance of breakthrough single The Rat certainly helped their cause. David Letterman, among others, is a big fan.

For those turned on by rough edges and scuzzy dynamics of Bows + Arrows (the album on which you'll find The Rat and several other gems), the template remains reasonably intact here.

Angelo Surf City kicks up a thrilling garage racket, while Blue As Your Blood is a spacey, evocative guitar piece, complete with a lovely vocal from Hamilton Leithauser.

On moments like these and the crooning, Grizzly Bear-like pre-rock ballad Torch Song, The Walkmen are a very special band indeed.

Yet, there remains a frustrating quality about the album, with one too many songs stuck in the same gear and others simply sounding like that of a million other hopefuls hanging around Brooklyn.

One senses Leithauser et al are capable of delivering a masterful album, but the wait for that will continue.

Burn it: Angelo Surf City; Torch City

Irish Independent

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