You Can Go Home Again

October 19th, 2012

The Walkmen – Terminal 5 – October 18, 2012

“This is a real homecoming show for all of us,” announced Hamilton Leithauser, frontman of the Walkmen, to the crowd at Terminal 5 last night, adding, somewhat wistfully, “We don’t all live here anymore.” Indeed, times have changed since the band debuted at the start of the millennium, often unwittingly grouped with a plethora of guitar-driven bands comprising the so-called “new” New York City music scene.

Now with seven studio albums (including their latest release, Heaven) to their credit, it’s easy to see why the Walkmen may have resented initial comparisons to other of-the-moment bands—although they certainly have attitude, style and the kind of punchy guitar lines that can rile up a crowd. But since their inception, the band has taken pains to set them apart: crafting their songs with erudite lyrics, shifting dynamics and intricate compositions, often using vintage instruments.

In particular, the Walkmen excel at experimenting with the opposing forces of restraint and excess, frequently illustrated during last night’s show. Leithauser relished in the measured delivery of slow-building numbers like “138th Street” and “In the New Year,” while during more unhinged songs like “All Hands and the Cook,” “Angela Surf City” and “The Rat,” he shout-sang lyrics with unbridled immediacy. The Walkmen closed out the night with a hit from their 2002 debut album, the piano-tinged “We’ve Been Had.” It’s a song with lyrics brimming with nostalgia, and a fitting finish for an accomplished band returning to their formative city. —Alena Kastin