The Walkmen You & Me

[Gigantic; 2008]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie rock, garage rock
Others: Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, Jonathan Fire*Eater

With the lackadaisical A Hundred Miles Off, The Walkmen hit the wall. Hard. Only after releasing a track-by-track cover of Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats, which found the boys wading the alcoholic waters of buddy music, were they able to pick themselves back up. Their drunken sways and merry crooning thankfully drowned out the dull sounds of A Hundred Miles Off, the inspiration-less album that curiously lacked the heat and desperation The Walkmen had infused into their melodies two albums prior. At the bottom of the bottle and the end of Pussy Cats, The Walkmen remembered who they were and what they were made of.

You & Me finds The Walkmen returning to the more familiar sounds of Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone and Bows & Arrows. Sure to anger those who hoped the band would continue to push forward, You & Me is more about retaining the original spirit of the band rather than the music it produces. The Walkmen have once again found the means to translate their soul into sound.

Sadly, there aren’t any anguished cries of desperation (“Wake Up,” “The Rat”) to rattle the cage, but what You & Me lacks in loud it more than makes up for in boozy reminiscing. It's the old friend who returns home after years away to regale friends and family in the tales of the big city, fondly relaying new stories to old. It’s an arm-around-the-shoulder in our time of need. Indeed, You & Me strikes it big due to its familiarity. It’s comfort music — Hamilton telling us it’s all going to be alright as he recounts his recent experiences. We are assured of a good year (“In the New Year”), love (“Canadian Girl”), and a new beginning (“New Country”), all wrapped up with a fond farewell (“If Only It Were True”). No cynicism or jealousy, just the camaraderie found between old friends.

And that is exactly what You & Me is: an old friend. The Walkmen are making up for lost time, and the conversations this go-round are of the variety we all need to hear. As the world crumbles around us, the soothing sounds of You & Me allow for a brief reprieve from the madness. It's impossible to fully return all the way home again, but You & Me is the next best thing.

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