The Walkmen use vintage equipment and evoke earlier musical styles, but have a unique sound, and Lisbon does a fine job of capturing it. Drummer Matt Barrick sticks to simple rhythms, but none of them involve standard rock beats, and he knows how to leave space, a talent shared by his bandmates. Strains of surf, psych, rockabilly, and Latin music emerge in the guitar work of Paul Maroon, who cranks the tremolo and adds color instead of strumming an endless series of chords. Singer Hamilton Leithauser makes the emotional depths the songs describe seem so believable you’d swear he scrawled the lyrics on a cocktail napkin earlier in the day. As you might expect for such decidedly downer music, many cuts stay in low gear, but those tracks impress as much as “Juveniles,” “Angela Surf City,” and “Victory,” where at unpredictable moments the energy level rises quickly and dramatically, replacing long-term melancholy with a short-lived euphoria. Strings (“Blue as Your Blood”) and mariachi-like brass (“Stranded”) blend nicely into the impressionistic soundscape The Walkmen are so adept at creating. Warm, dreamy, and atmospheric, Lisbon is so pleasantly depressing it makes being in a bad mood appealing.
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