Track Review: The Walkmen – “Stranded”

[Fat Possum / Bella Union; 2010]

The simple fact that “Stranded” comes from the same band responsible for the teeming angst-filled “The Rat” speaks volumes about how far The Walkmen have come over the past ten years. The New York-based outfit has primarily thrived since their formation through their unique ability to capture unbridled energetic lightning in the bottle of their rock arrangements. But if “Stranded” is any indication of what their upcoming sixth album Lisbon holds in store, it prefaces signs of maturity that were seen in moments throughout their 2008 album You & Me.

Although The Walkmen’s antiquated warmth has been a longstanding staple of their sound, never have they resonated as elegantly as they do throughout “Stranded.” This stately, heartbroken waltz features frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s evocative croon, as he resigns “Oh why does the rain fall cold/ When I’m stranded and I’m starry-eyed.” While in the past, Leithauser would have simply led the band through another lonesome ballad, instead he recalls a desolate reflection comparable to that of Tom Waits. Combine that with rich prominent horns on par with a masterful Zach Condron arrangement, and “Stranded” stands as one of the most stunning Walkmen moments to date.