Lisbon

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Lisbon might not seem like the most glamorous or cool destination but The Walkmen were sufficiently moved by its apparent “odd” vibe that they have named their latest record in its honour. Although Lisbon gets the plaudits, the influence which comes through heavily on this album is the stripped back sound of Sun Studios in Memphis which has been successfully emulated on many of these tracks. Of the 28 reportedly recorded for this record just 11 have made the cut. Opener, “Juveniles” is a mellow, whiskey drenched ditty with Ian McCulloch style vocals and sparse instrumentation (a running theme through this album). This low key introduction is followed by “Angela Surf City” in which The Walkmen return to more familiar territory. An opening of just drums and vocals gives way to a raucous racket. Imagine a stadium rock band like Kings of Leon or The Killers, add some actual soul and song-writing ability, and this is what you’d probably get. The very next track, however, is the reason why The Walkmen will never be “stadium rockers” (thankfully). “Follow The Leader” is a minute mish-mash of noise and ramblings which would, no doubt, make the average KOL fan vomit in disgust. “Blue As Your Blood” seems to be some sort of ho-down where a jolly rhythm, morbid strings and whimsical vocals never really fit, especially after repeated listening. The orchestral arrangements continue (and work better) on “Stranded” which sounds like a Christmas carol for a love sick drunk. The mid section of the album reverts back to a more traditional indie rock formula and, whilst most of the tracks are a cut above the competition, it’s a slight shame that band don’t continue to push into the new directions that the more experimental moments on the record had promised.   The final three songs on the record are all ballads and, as it happens, all winners too. “Torch Song” (with its minimalist swing guitar), “While I Shovel The Snow” (a wintery lullaby) and the final title track leave you thinking that you’d love to see The Walkmen in a dingy little jazz bar, at a table with a bottle of red wine and a selection of cheeses...then you remember that if that was the case you probably wouldn’t get to hear “The Rat” or “Angela Surf City”... swings and roundabouts.