The most frustrating aspect of reviewing music is the point where you appreciate something but aren’t entirely enthused about it. You’ve heard something enjoyable, but once it is over, you can’t say why you enjoyed it or whether you’d be inclined to enjoy it later. While The Walkmen’s latest, Lisbon, is a good album, it fails to announce itself as necessary.
It’s a fine start, however, from the conceptual misstep of their complete cover album of Nilsson & Lennon’s Pussy Cats, has more interest points than You & Me did, and points to stronger futures than the present. Tracks like the cowpoke-ish “Blue As Your Blood,” followed by mariachi-cum-funeral-march of “Stranded” make a case for ownership, as does the delicate “While I Shovel The Snow,” but the rest of the album tends to go by in a blur. If a friend was playing the disc, I’d appreciate it but wouldn’t insist on buying it for myself later on.
And honestly, I can’t put my finger on where the disconnect is. There are no songs here that shrivel the nose, and Lisbon might well be the best thing The Walkmen have done up to this moment, but when thrown against the wall, very little of it tends to stick. I excuse myself from offering a negative review because, under the right circumstances I might gravitate to these tracks. It might in fact be a true “grower,” which brings up another argument of instinct versus conditioning. I’ll leave it to you, and your pre-existing impressions of The Walkmen. If you’ve liked their prior albums, Lisbon might just blow you away. If not, then your reaction might rank among the lukewarm.
Lisbon is available from Amazon.com