Music Feature

A Fictional Conversation About "Heaven," the New Walkmen Album

by Ryan O'Connell
Because sometimes traditional reviews are boring...

Two men, 2000 and Chuck Wagon, are drinking beers at the Abbaye, a bar in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.

“Hey, did you hear the Walkmen came out with a new album?” Chuck Wagon asks.

“I did,” 2000 responds. “It's called Heaven right? They played one of those free at noon shows at World Café last week.”

“Yeah, Heaven. Have you heard it?”

“I have. It was streaming on NPR.”

“What do you think? I think it’s pretty awesome.”

“Yeah, I don’t know.”

“Come on. I thought you liked the Walkmen.”

“I thought so too. But I’m not so sure anymore. I want to like them. I really do. But there is something about them…I don’t know what it is. I just don’t think I like them. I don’t not like them. I think it’s more a case of me just not being a fan. Like, I wouldn’t choose to listen to them, but if they came on the radio, I’d think about it.”

“Well I think they’re great and I think Heaven is a solid album. Definitely their strongest album yet.”

“What’s so solid about it?”

“The sound is beefed up a little bit,” Chuck Wagon says. “It’s richer. And the vocals are more pure. They sound really smooth. It’s a very confidant sounding album.”

“Yeah see, it’s the vocals that are a sticking point for me.”

“They’re an acquired taste.”

“I love their drummer.”

“Oh he’s great. That song “The Rat”- he kills it on that tune.”

“Is there anything like “The Rat” on Heaven?”

“Not really. Although “Heartbreaker” is really good song. They’ve gotten more accessible. “Witch” is catchy as hell, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever said about a Walkmen song before.”

“I want to listen to it, but I just don’t know how badly.”

“It’s worth checking out. I think the title track could make you think differently about them. Overall, I’d give the album an 8 with the potential of becoming of a 9 after a few more listens. It’s an album that grows on you…in a positive way. Like the new White Rabbits album or that show Veep.”

“So the opposite of the War of Drugs album? I feel like that album has gotten worse over time.”

“Yes. Totally.”

“I’ll think about it. And Veep is hilarious. So is Girls.”

“Oh yeah, Girls is great. And you should listen to Heaven. No one sounds like the Walkmen. They have a resilient sound- like they don’t really care if people are listening and they’re just making music that they like and enjoy playing. It’s defiant, but not in a punk rock way. More like art school defiant.”

“Can I have your Honda Civic if I listen to it and don’t like it?”

“Yes. I would totally bet my Honda Civic.”

“Then we have a deal.”

“It needs gas.”

“Deal still stands.”

“Awesome,” Chuck Wagon says. “Another beer?”

“Of course,” 2000 says. “I’ve never understood the point of just getting one.”

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