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The Walkmen, ‘Heartbreaker’ – Song Review

The Walkmen
Fat Possum Records

Indie rock stalwarts the Walkmen have released ‘Heartbreaker,’ the latest single from their seventh album, ‘Heaven,’ which came out in May.

Opening with a couple of electric guitars and a whole lot of reverb, ‘Heartbreaker’ goes for a Phil Spector-esque Wall of Sound that tries to echo Bruce Springsteen‘s early work. Seriously, you can slowly sing the first two lines of ‘Born to Run’ over the verse.

Lyrically, it expresses an unironic sense of optimism rarely found in indie rock these days. “These are the good years / Ah, the best we’ll ever know,” singer Hamilton Leithauser sings before declaring in the chorus, ‘I’m not your heartbreaker / Some tender ballad player.’ But while that’s all well and good, you’re looking for something else to add weight to the sentiment.

The song breaks down in the bridge with the guitars switching to dissonant single-notes, which threatens to crash the song, but it fortunately regains its sensibilities for the final verse and coda.

‘Heartbreaker’ isn’t a bad song, but it’s far from the Walkmen’s best work. There’s something about it that seems unfinished, that if they’d taken a little more time to flesh out some of the lyrics it would be a better song. As a result, it’s an odd choice for a single. This is unexpected for a band that’s been around for more than a decade.

Listen to the Walkmen, ‘Heartbreaker’

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