Wednesday, December 31, 2008

#1 of 2008: The Walkmen - You and Me

The Walkmen's You and Me is my 2008 number one album. Instead of the usual, I've pasted my original (yet-to-be-published) review below. See you in '09. It's gonna be a good year...

Five Hundred Sixty-Five Words:
One's young adult life can accurately be described through the procession of albums released by the Walkmen.

2002's Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone describes
the drunken debauchery of the first few of years away from home. It's sloppy and drunk, but it's nice to reminisce about those old college days. You drink too much, stay out too late, and sleep with the wrong people. You regret much of it, but it pulls you back in every time you rest the needle on the record. Then there's Bows + Arrows. You go corporate and move a little faster in your new car and fancy clothes. However, you soon come to realize that you don't go out as often as you used to and you wouldn't know anyone at the bar if you did go out. You like your new adult life, but you still sort of miss the days when you could get drunk without worrying about having a hangover at work the next day.

Eventually, you want to change. You don't want
the new, faster version of yourself, but you don't want to go back to your undergraduate years either. So, you make a few aesthetic changes. It also takes people a little longer to get to know you, because you're guarded now. Once they do get to know you, they realize you are a hidden gem. Such is the character of A Hundred Miles Off.

(Let's forget 2006's "Pussy Cats" Starring
the Walkmen ever happened. Think of it as that one transgression, that one-night stand that should have never occurred. It was probably fun while it lasted, but as soon as it was over there was nothing but regret and self-doubt.) Now you enter a new place in your life. You've learned from your mistakes. You've also learned that some of that debauchery and fast living was kinda fun and can be enjoyed with some moderation. You're more confident now that you've survived your 20's. You have finally come into your own. This is the same thing that has happened to the Walkmen with their new album You & Me. It's as if the five previous Walkmen albums have culminated in creating this ideal document of the Walkmen genius. There's the sloppiness and whimsy of Everyone. The sonic levels of guitar and organ remain from B+A. A Hundred Miles has left an indelible mark of calypso and night's on the beach vibe with the band that doesn't appear to be leaving any time soon. Even the bar band sing along feel and nod to the classics of Pussy Cats has had a lasting effect.

Thematically, You & Me plays on
the conversational tone of the band's lyrics. Each song seems to encapsulate a conversation one of the Walkmen may have had (or is planning to have) with a lover, band mate, or an acquaintance at the bar. This has always been the case with their lyrics, but the songs on this record are tempered and mature. I've had these very conversations at many bars on many a drunken night. And that's why the Walkmen are a great band and this is a great record: They capture those conversations just as they are. There's no pretension or malice. It's not fake or overly dramatic. It's sort of like one's 20's. It just is what it is. And that's fine with me.

The Moment of Truth:
About five seconds into "Four Provinces" tells you that are listening to greatness.

Killer to Filler Ratio: 6:1

1 comment:

ks said...

Really great review!