Nothing on the seventh Walkmen release is remotely as jarring as their 2004 masterpiece, "The Rat," a song that had frontman Hamilton Leithauser howling over frenetic guitars and a wildly crashing drumbeat. Heaven, overall, is a decidedly more laidback affair, one in which Leithauser channels crooners like Frank Sinatra and Roy Orbison. It's a stimulating work nonetheless, sharp, nimble and even cheery at times, which might have something to do with the unique process of putting it together.

"The songwriting was really different because we all live in different cities now," Leithauser tells me over the phone before a gig in North Carolina. "It was really done in individual situations, a lot of e-mailing each other ideas back and forth and working alone for, like, months at a time. We only got together two times, for three days each, over the course of the whole record."

That proximity is evident in the spaciousness of the songs. "Heartbreaker," "Song for Leigh," and "Love is Luck" each contain an element of breathability that makes them vast, but they still manages to sustain the intimacy that's long been part of the Walkmen sound. "It's kind of nice to get everybody in a different zone, because we've been together for so long," Leithauser says. "You don't want to end up falling into a lull."

THE WALKMEN :: Royale, 279 Tremont St, Boston :: October 19 @ 6 pm :: 18+ :: $23 advance/$25 day of show :: 617.866.8933 orĀ

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