For the past decade, The Walkmen has been churning out albums with huge success. Without question, their upcoming seventh full-length, Heaven (via Fat Possum), is one of the most anticipated of 2012. And it’s within good reason that it is, since their 2010 album Lisbon was critically acclaimed. As excitement builds towards the release date of June 5th, the New York City-based quintet released two songs this week to whet the fans’ appetite.
“Heaven” serves as the first cut from the album and immediately, the jangled, ’80s-style guitars and upbeat tempo distinguishes itself from previous Walkmen material. It’s rather simple in structure with a two-chord progression gliding over Matt Barrick’s 4/4 drum beat. Lyrically, vocalist/guitarist Hamilton Leithauser sings the lines “Don’t leave me / you’re my best friend / all of my life / you’ve always been,” providing a theme of desperate longing and a tinge of hopelessness.
The second, “Heartbreaker,” has been a song that they’ve played live so this one is a bit more familiar. It’s slightly slower in pace, but it’s the clean chugging guitars from Leithauser and Paul Maroon and the thick bass from Peter Bauer that drive this home into near nostalgia. The vintage warmth hint at a ’50s/’60s pop aesthetic with the choral lines “I’m not your heartbreaker / some tender ballad player.”
“Heaven” and “Heartbreaker” show that beauty can be found within simplicity as these songs are direct and straight-to-the-point. With producer Phil Ek at the helm, The Walkmen have tightened up the rhythm section while letting loose the guitars as they intertwine with each other in a seamless effort. Based on these two songs alone, Heaven certainly has the potential to be, dare I say it, one of the best albums this year.