The Walkmen took two years to write and record You & Me, shuttling on Chinatown buses between New York and Philadelphia, where guitarist Paul Maroon and drummer Matthew Barrick had moved to escape high rents. (“It’s a pain in the ass,” says Martin, “though at one point we were paying $800 a month for a practice space here”—they had to give up Marcata when Columbia University bought the lot, in 2006—“and they were paying $75 there.”) The songs, recorded live in the room, vocals and all, roll along at in-between paces, from the inebriated double-time march on “Four Provinces” to the accelerated dirge “I Lost You.” “We realized we can put our stamp on a song that isn’t fast tempo,” says Bauer.
The weariness and disappointment that one could always sense in Leithauser’s voice now sound somehow earned, and the lyrics are noticeably warmer and more vulnerable. On “Seven Years of Holidays,” which was almost the title track, he tells a brief history of the band: “Seven years of holidays, cafés, bars, and sunny days/We ran around and banged our heads/Never felt no pain/I hope we’ll find our peace someday/Until then, these wild nights are no fun/My old friend.”
So the band that always played at being grown-up finally has done it. You & Me probably won’t help make you hip, but it might make you happy for an hour or two.