Heaven is The Walkmen’s seventh studio album and, although I’m only a part of the way into my Walkmen education, I’m convinced that this record is one of their best. The first time I saw the American five-piece was when they were supporting The National and it was one of the best sets I think I’d seen that year. There’s a broodiness and untameable sense of masculinity that can be found behind each song The Walkmen produce that’s irresistible to listen to. Heaven brings both these things together with a hint of romantic rock that signals the band’s maturity in both persona and sound.
Hamilton Leithauser has a penchant for making the melancholic sound sweet; much of Heaven is focused on the vocals deep, almost Dylan-esque tones Leithauser has made so distinctly his own, with tracks like “Song For Leigh” showing the singer in a tender and more intimate light. Most of the material on the album has a slow-burning effect to it; you know how if you’re listening to a really attractive Southern drawl, you could almost say it’s smoky? That’s the vibe I was getting off songs like “Line By Line” and “We Can’t Be Beat”. The arrangements are also great; between the keys and the fragility of the guitar on “Line By Line”, and the rather bobby (in comparison) “Heartbreaker”, The Walkmen have once again shown their diversity and talent as musicians.
You can tell that the band have almost been weaving and carefully crafting their music to reach the point where they’re at now with Heaven. The sound quality is crystal clear and the music doesn’t sound rushed or overdramatised at all, which can sometimes happen when a band reaches this point in their career. Much like The National, the band that I saw first saw The Walkmen perform with, these are musicians who put each lesson they learn (both good and bad) into effect with each ensuing record, and the results prove to be great with each release. The fusion of stormy Americana-indie on Heaven shows The Walkmen at, in my opinion, possibly their most cohesive and I’d definitely recommend this one for anyone beginning their collection.
Review Score: 8 out of 10