Thank God The Walkmen are on a “hiatus.” As unpopular a statement as that might be to fans of the beloved indie-rock outfit, the resulting album, Liberation! (Mexican Summer), by the group’s former bassist Peter Matthew Baur reinforces the truth behind what I think. Baur has taken the time as a chance to expand his wingspan creatively, producing an album that’s slick, resonant and infectiously psychedelic.
It’s a heady journey through the artist’s far-from-normal life, never lacking in emotion and fundamentally based in a sense of optimism. Also, one of the most fascinating things going on with Liberation! is how it blends local and international aesthetics without ever feeling like appropriation or pandering. Songs such as “I Was Born in an Ashram” and “Philadelphia Raga” feel organic and refreshing, incorporating exotic influences without ever making them feel awkwardly placed or unnecessary.
The whole effort is the culmination of a meditative post-“hiatus” tour through Europe, and it shows. The record is relaxed and casual yet exploratory, never seeming to break a sweat while being thoroughly entertaining. The collection of songs has a comforting accessibility reminiscent of couchbound evenings of honesty-filled, drunken/stoner chats with your best buddies, which may seem to come few and far between as all of us get older and busier. - Daniel Ludwig