Permanent features in critic’s Albums of The Year polls every time they release a record, New Yorkers the Walkmen have so far not managed to translate acclaim into record sales. The closest they came was in 2004, with ‘Bows And Arrows’, which contained thrashy garage anthem ‘The Rat’. New album ‘Lisbon’, their sixth, is a continuation of mellowing that’s taken place since those early, bratty days. The expansive Americana of much of ‘Lisbon’ is like a more wistful Springsteen, mixed with Beck’s quieter moments. Opener ‘Juveniles’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Band Of Horses album, while ‘Blue As Your Blood’ has all the hallmarks of a more reflective Conor Oberst creation. Only really ‘Follow The Leade’ and ‘Angela Surf City’ return to the caustic ferocity of the band’s early days. Lyrically all dusty roads and lessons learned, it takes a while to get used to, but it’s worth putting the effort in. Diehards will love it, most won’t notice, but that’s always been the Walkmen’s way.

By Tom Goodwyn

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