Tuesday 22 July 2014

Peter Matthew Bauer Can't Make Us Forget About The Walkmen Yet

American band The Walkmen never manager to break through to a big audience, despite several attempts and well received albums and shows. Last year November the band announced a long hiatus, that now looks like a definite breakup. Meanwhile several members started working on solo albums, including singer Hamilton Leithauser's debut, that was released recently. And now here is the first album Liberation! by Peter Matthew Bauer, keyboard player of the band, who played bass guitar in the beginning.

Peter Matthew Bauer - Liberation! (Ronald Says 7 out of 10)

The breakup apparently took place in good terms, since former band mates Leithauser and Matt Barrick cooperated on the album. The title doesn't refer to the liberation of the band he was part of for thirteen years, but to break loose from your surroundings, to experience freedom in all its shapes. He's mostly using his personal experience for inspiration which you can tell from a title like 'I Was Born In An Ashram'. Despite the personal songs he hasn't quite developed his own sound yet. 'Irish Wake In Varanasi' is a The Walkmen song and you can hear some Bruce Springsteen in 'Fortune Tellers'.

But the songs do have something in common, except for the piano piece 'Istanbul Field Recording', since they are all easy on the ears. Bauer has a bit of a nasal voice that brings Bob Geldof into mind now and then and is nice to listen to. The compositions are well thought through, have smart arrangements and are well performed. Bauer did try to give his sound a personal touch, like in 'Philadelphia Raga', that has some Indian influences as the title implies. But too often you will hear something familiar.

Liberation! turned into a decent debut, where Bauer seems to be searching for the right direction. It's obvious The Walkmen were a group of very skilled musicians, in case we forgot. Maybe we will get a few new projects in its place, that will fill the gap the band has left behind. But probably more often we will think back about them nostalgically. Despite a good attempt Bauer has not yet succeeded in taking this feeling away.

This review has been published on Festivalinfo in Dutch over here.

Listen to 'Liberation!' on Spotify.

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