The Walkmen don't walk. They don't run. They don't even saunter. They lilt. They float. They roll and stumble along even. But they don't walk. Never have, and on their new album You & Me, they roll and stumble with the best of them. Hamilton Leithauser can't really sing. He screams, yells, deadpans, talks, croons even, but he don't sing. If you're familiar with The Walkmen, you know they have a penchant for lilting twinkling string sections, throbbing precise percussion and a lull groggy voice with introspective lyrics that resembles a drunken inner monologue. This album feels like listening to an almost-alcoholic droning and reminiscing about a past filled with light and life. He crooning makes it seem almost as if he is talking to himself. In a way, it's more of the same from these D.C. rockers, but You & Me demonstrates a maturity which has been reconciled with the musical idiosyncrasies from this band. The bursts of emotion coupled with the dreamy haunting guitarplay is still here and more prominent than ever. "Donde Esta La Playa" is a soft breezy number, one you could get lost in listening to at a dimly-lit bar around your neighborhood. As with most Walkmen albums, the hook is subtle(if at al present). With each preceding album, The Walkmen have engineered their songs more and more towards subtle musicianship. No single instrument overpowers or takes the limelight. The do not, however, trot through minimalist quagmire, which the have had a tendency of doing in the past. Where their previous albums lacked direction and focus, You & Me moves forward with purpose...though slowly.
The one fault of this album is perhaps due to its focus. Many of the songs sound similar, working around very similar tempos. As a result the entire album sounds like some drunken beach bums soundtrack(a good thing, in my opinion). The Walkmen have had a template since the beginning and do not show any signs of changing it. I suspect that this is the album the Walkmen have always wanted to make, gods be damned. And goddamn if they're not good at it. Hamilton Leithauser's lyrics are and always have been paramount, yet ironically, you may miss them. The haunting dreamlike instrumentation is hypnotizing and you can almost forget he's singing.
The strongest songs on this album are perhaps If Only It Were True, and Red Moon, which has single written all over it. Though no song on this album has outright aggression or catchiness of The Rat or Tenley Town, this album more than stands on its own. This is really an album you need to sit down and listen to. This is the kind of album that finds you as you go about your daily routine, folding your clothes or cleaning your room when suddenly you become aware of a creeping twanging guitar, a delicately played piano. Hamilton sings "...i miss you..." on Red Moon and you find yourself sitting by your speakers by the time the song ends. This album doesn't want to ride along with you in the car or impress your friends, it wants to sit with you by the window and watch you smoke your cigar and watch you watch the sun set, until you can't recall what pulled you away from the monotony and routine of the day in the first place.