Best of 2008: #2, The Walkmen

Rank: #2
Album: You & Me
Artist: The Walkmen
Label: Gigantic Records

We've got just two albums left to go on our countdown.  At #2, The Walkmen's You & Me.  The band's fourth original studio album to-date, You & Me is different from previous recordings, as is usually the case.  However, what remains a constant for The Walkmen is their established sense of nostalgia, enhanced by their use of vintage instrumentation.  This album in particular sounds so distant, so entrenched in the past, you can't help but feel it is actually a less recent batch of recordings.  Each track seems to be enveloped in a haze of good times gone by and regret, the epitome of the "smokey bar" sound which my brother and I will often discuss.  Admittedly, you may not get it on the first listen.  In fact, it may even seem to crawl during that first impression.  However, each successive listen brings you closer and closer to the record, closer and closer to getting it.  Every time I hear You & Me, it just gets better.

Does lead singer Hamilton Leithauser hate December or Christmas?  He's got a solid collection of songs showing some angst against the month and holiday, and this album adds to that group with opener "Donde Esta la Playa".  Leithauser wails through this one, as he does with many of the tracks on You & Me, setting the scene for the struggle with his past and future that ensues.  This record is all about realization, a coming of age album if you will.  To wake up one day and suddenly realize that everyone around you has grown up and moved on, or perhaps you have, is unsettling, for anyone.  The Walkmen try to use these tracks here to put those feelings into motion, and really exemplify how hopeless the situation really is.  The songs blend seamlessly, each becoming a chapter in the longer book.  From the lamenting of standout, "In the New Year," to my personal favorite, "Canadian Girl," to the very appropriate closer, "If Only It Were True," you can feel what they're feeling, and maybe even relate a bit yourself.  The visual created by this record is something which I have rarely seen recently, but is definitely welcome.  For comparisons, check out Department of Eagles, Wolf Parade and The Dodos.

Best Track: "Canadian Girl"

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