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Album Review

The Walkmen, 'Lisbon'

September 20, 2010

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The strangest thing happens a minute and a half into “Stranded,’’ the standout track from the Walkmen’s new album. Everything but the faint pop of drums and guitar falls away, peeling off to reveal the song’s skeleton. It’s a jarring shift after the way the tune opens, in a swarm of horns that sound like a submerged marching band. You suddenly realize that the Walkmen summon an enormous amount of emotion from the sparest palette. That’s the theme of “Lisbon,’’ an album that’s economical but even more resonant than current releases by other guitar-driven indie bands, from Interpol to the National. “Lisbon’’ is the New York quintet’s sixth album, and it hinges on a precision that wasn’t there previously. It’s not all bare-bones, of course. “Juveniles’’ and “Woe Is Me’’ jangle like loose change in a pocket, and “Blue as Your Blood’’ darts forth in minor chords as if driven by a metronome. On “Torch Song,’’ frontman Hamilton Leithauser croons with a world-weary tension that interlocks with the smoldering backing. Like the rest of this album, it speaks volumes by saying little. (Out now) JAMES REED

ESSENTIAL “Stranded’’

The Walkmen play at Royale with A.A. Bondy on Oct. 7.