THE END OF THE WORLD: French Exit [Flameshovel]

End Of The World singer/drummer Stefan Marolachakis sounds so much like the Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser that you’d be forgiven for wondering if they’ve ever been seen together in the same New York bar. Like Leithauser, Marolachakis elongates his vowels, often past the end of a line, and he likes to shift and slur into his upper register in the middle of a word. It’s a sound simultaneously sober and drunken, and it’s effective coming from both vocalists. French Exit is the second album from Marolachakis and guitarist Benjamin Smith (they’ve lost several bandmates since 2006’s You’re Making It Come Alive, which might explain the new album’s title, a term that means leaving without saying goodbye). It would be too easy, and unjust, to dismiss French Exit as ersatz Walkmen: Once the shock of similarity passes, the solid songwriting and anthemic performances stand on their own merits. While the sound is big and favors layers of reverberating chords and tumbling, martial drums on “Jody” and “Railroad Living,” French Exit also ventures into punk rock on “Section House,” helping the End Of The World to avoid sounding pretentious or bloated. Walkmen-like? Definitely. Walkmen-lite? Not at all. [www.flameshovel.com]

—Steve Klinge