The Walkmen - You and Me
I'm sure I'm not alone in being disappointed in the last two Interpol albums - pale shadows of the imperious debut, they leave a gap to fill. The question is: are The Walkmen the band to fill it? Now on their fourth album, eight years after the end of the much hyped but rarely heard Jonathan Fire*Eater brought the arrival of The Walkmen, the band's latest album, You and Me sees them try and step out of the shadows of their previous incarnation.
If the only Walkmen song you have heard is the minor radio friendly hit The Rat taken from the otherwise disappointing Bows and Arrows album then be prepared for a shock. That song's clattering energy gives way to a more measured epic gothic sound - think Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Divisions Closer. Whereas, You and Me sees The Walkmen return to the sound of their brilliantly titled debut Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. That's not to say it's fourteen tracks of pure misery and pain. Hidden in the dark epic sound of this album is a real sense of confessional rejoicing. It feels like the whole album acts as a purge of the band's regrets and mistakes so lends an uplifting tone of the relief and hope this purge brings. Every guitar chord, keyboard line and horn piece rings out with a sense of gothic joy. Lead singer Hamilton Leithauser has a voice a friend described to me as a 'New wave Bob Dylan' and even in his gruff tones the sense of release and escape is never far behind.
It must be said, You and Me is an album short of singles. With the exception of the aforementioned The Rat The Walkmen don't do singles, so we can't expect to hear much of this record on the radio any time soon. That's probably for the best, though, as their songs always seem to work best when heard in the context of the album and not as little snippets or soundbites on the radio. This album may not soundtrack your next party, but if you're looking for suggestions for listening material ideal for long bus or train journeys, or if you're amongst those who are feeling let down by Interpol of late and feel the need to seek something more fulfilling, this dark little gem might just be right up your street.