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The Walkmen “A Hundred Miles Off” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Through the New York based band’s travels the recording process has proven to produce an increasingly overachieving brand of music as time progresses. With The Walkmen’s follow-up to the band’s uber-successful 2004 album Bows & Arrows comes a twisting and unbalanced record that finds both power, enlightenment and heartache when reflecting in the band’s past fame and future aspirations.

Lead singer Hamilton Leithauser reflected on the album after its completion noting that “it’s not immediately hard hitting, it’s a slow builder, but I think it has the longest replayability.” This is a possibility, however after multiple listens the album proves to have less flow and reoccurring high points than past releases. Just as the album begins to blossom there becomes a great divide in which rooty influences begin to blend and mix with modern tastes. The ultimate result is a convoluted blend somewhere between a first rate cover band, in such tracks as the electrified shade of Dylan-like swagger in “Lost in Boston,” and the ferocious, rhythmless blastoff “Tenley-Town.”

The Walkmen now seem bleached and slightly withered from the brilliance and acclaim associated with 2004’s Bows & Arrows. Will statisticians of the future ever figure the probability of a band releasing a stunning, career-changing album and following it up with one worthy of similar merit? If they do, chances are that the odds were against The Walkmen from the beginning and there was nothing the band could do about it.

With success comes pressure. With multiple appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and features on FOX’s The OC comes pressure. The final result, a performance under the weight of these pressures is, A Hundred Miles Off, an album that marginally distances itself from its predecessors by changing the band’s overall formula slightly. Bassist Peter Bauer took over organ duties and organist Walter Martin completed the exchange by handling the bass for the album’s recording. The swap, however minute it may have been, is slightly representative of A Hundred Miles Off. While it’s the same band in essence, something seems to be lost or at least off, and the result displaces some previously solid fixture that brought each member of the band to where they are today.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]