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You & Me

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Album Review

The Walkmen took a working holiday from their usual sound on their remake of Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats and, to a lesser extent, on the Dylan-goes-Latin vibe of A Hundred Miles Off, but they return to more familiar territory on You & Me. Quite literally, too: the band revisited the same studio where they laid down Bows + Arrows for some of this album's sessions. However, travel is one of You & Me's major themes, with beaches, holidays, and provinces placing these songs all over the map. That plays perfectly into the Walkmen's uncanny ability to conjure specific places in their music: "Donde Esta La Playa," from its turista title to its deconstructed surf guitars to lyrics like "there is still sand in my suitcase/there is still salt in my teeth," plays like blurry but vivid memories — and proof that not everything that happens on vacation stays on vacation. Grotto-like reverb gives "Postcards from Tiny Islands"' riotous guitars a nostalgic twinge only heightened by small but telling details like "the bar band and their sorry songs." The Walkmen also travel through different sounds on You & Me: "Red Moon"'s gentle acoustic guitars and brass give it a subtly Latin feel, while "Canadian Girl"'s dreamy warmth suggests a vintage soul single that's been tucked away for decades in a forgotten jukebox. You & Me's return to the Walkmen's usual shadowy, introspective moodiness feels like a cloud covering the sun, especially after the drunken wake of Pussy Cats. Fortunately, that cloudiness suits these songs, particularly "On the Water," a darkly pretty ballad lit by faintly shimmering keyboards, and "In the New Year," which sets a bruised melody to jubilant organ swells that only sound more poignant together. Despite a few louder moments like "Seven Years of Holidays (For Stretch)"'s shambling waltz and "Blue Route"'s gut-punching drums, You & Me delves deeply into the evocative ballads that have made the band fascinating since Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone. The album closes with a trio of them, with the spare jangle of "New Country" and "If Only It Were True"'s final declaration "I'll die in dreams of you" ending You & Me on a somberly sweet note. This may or may not be the Walkmen's prettiest album, but it's certainly their loneliest.


Formed: 2000 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Walkmen feature three members from Jonathan Fire*Eater and two from the Recoys. When Jonathan Fire*Eater disbanded in 1998, the group took the remainder of their Dreamworks funding and established an uptown rehearsal space in New York City that doubled as a 24-track recording studio where they use a wide variety of vintage equipment. The 900-square-foot Harlem industrial space, dubbed Marcata Studios, was completed in the fall of 1999. (Bands that have recorded at their studio include labelmates...
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You & Me, The Walkmen
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