The Walkmen - Lisbon

by Adam Leach Rating:8.5 Release Date:2010-10-11

The year is 2004, in California, a television crew is inside a night club filming a scene for the smash-hit teen drama, The OC. As the cameras roll, Marissa flutters her eyelids, Summer says something infantile, Seth responds with something sarcastic and Ryan wears a vest - it's riveting.

Then all of a sudden, something dramatic happens: The Walkmen appear on stage and wipe away every last shred of artificial angst as they dive into 'Little House of Savages' with heartfelt intensity. As the episode airs around the world, lots of people say, "Marissa is well fit", lots of others say, "That sarcastic guy is hilarious" but more importantly a huge number of people sit bolt upright and think to themselves, "Whoa, The Walkmen really are rather good".

Today, most of the cast of The OC are probably in, just out, or soon heading to celebrity rehab but The Walkmen are bigger and better than ever with four critically acclaimed albums behind them and, with Lisbon, they're well on their way to making it five.

Kicking things off in fine style is 'Juveniles' which takes jingly-jangly guitar and throaty vocals - as is their way - and throws it all together to produce a slow-cooked hearty stew of auditory bliss. The pace quickens with 'Angela Surf City' where for the verses, the drums hold down the fort, the guitar strays away without a care and the vocals bounce on top, before they all come together and toe the line to produce tight and delightful choruses with a distinctive kick.

'Blue as Your Blood' is a hypnotic number with its stripped down sound, Johnny Cash style finger-picking and sumptuous synths. Changing things up, they get all 'big band' with 'Stranded' which sounds like a ketamine fuelled jam by The Salvation Army Brass Band. 'Woe is Me', with its intricate and addictive guitar hooks, thump and bump drums and piano breakdown, is one of the album's stand out tracks, creating a sound like The Beach Boys going through a Velvet Underground phase.

Drawing proceeding to a close is title track 'Lisbon', a six minute jam session where each member of the band gets their time to shine. As you listen to it, you can picture yourself at the end of one of their gigs, where everybody else has left under a misguided illusion that they're done for the evening, leaving you to enjoy it all by yourself. It's a mighty fine track.

While The Walkmen may have got their break riding the coat tails of a TV show about teen angst, they've quickly and masterfully put themselves in the top bracket of creatively mature bands. They have chiselled out a unique sound which acts as their foundation and with each album they build and broaden it.

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