THE WALKMEN play the Molson Amphi theatre on August 2. See listing. Rating: NNNN
The Walkmen's seventh album oozes the kind of easy confidence that happens when a band's been working hard on its craft for a dozen years. This is especially evident in Hamilton Leitheuser's vocals. He's downright transcendent on mid-tempo second song Love Is Luck. On the hook-filled Song For Leigh, meanwhile, an appealing Rod Stewart rasp creeps in.
The New York five-piece definitely has a sound - think of a more elegant, ambitious Strokes - but here they fearlessly apply it across a range of styles. Take the Everly Brothersesque lullaby No One Ever Sleeps, with Fleet Foxes's Robin Pecknold adding a low harmony, or the hummed gospel instrumental Jerry Jr.'s Tune or the spare, doo-woppy We Can't Be Beat.
Masterful and textured production by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse, the Shins) keeps it fitting together like a glove. A couple of lifeless slower numbers bring the album to a crawl midway through, but they ultimately add balance to all the smart, uptempo rockers.
Top track: Love Is Luck