You and Me
With lead vocalist Hamilton Leithauser‘s wailing rambles over chiming, shimmering guitars, the fourth album from New York group The Walkmen creates an atmosphere of faded glory and weary self-acceptance – of growing older over beers and spending empty, wistful nights in dimly lit bars.
Nothing here is as immediate as singles off past albums, such as Bows and Arrows. There are no pounding radio hits a la “The Rat,” no driving, angry anthems to bop your head to. These songs reveal their nostalgic, pensive beauty slowly, always taking their time to develop.
It hits home, chillingly – especially for someone like me, who is graduating soon and facing the next chapter of life. “Seven Years of Holidays (for Stretch)” captures the nagging hollowness we attach to the good times past with lyrics like “We ran around / banged our heads / never felt no pain.” This contrasts with a world in which, eventually, “We’ll wed our girls and move away.“
When Leithauser sings, “You keep replaying through the days / That have brought you to this place / What happened to you?“ in “The Blue Route,” I can’t help but cringe. The startling clarity with which it describes that feeling of going out with a whimper rather than a bang, of realizing that it is all over but trying to cling onto whatever is left, is stirring.
It’s not all bad though. The album is chock full of moments of subtle but invigorating hope. With its gleaming organs, “In The New Year“ presents a comforting, poignant message – although the party may be over, the prospect of enjoying love awaits:
“Well I know you’re with me / It’s a point of pride / And it’s louder than lightning / In this room of mine.“
A “Long Time Ahead of Us” reminds us to be patient in the seemingly elusive search for contentment: “Tomorrow we‘ll rise / And the sky will be bright.“ Until then, there‘s a “long time ahead of us.“
– Sonia Parecadan
Give these tracks a listen: “Red Moon,” “In the New Year”
For fans of: Yo La Tengo, The Unicorns, The Velvet Underground