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The Walkmen
"Bows and Arrows"
by: Sun-J

As all the other NYC bands such as The Strokes, The Walkmen incorporate enough grunge guitar to make you dream of wailing guitars. Their 2002 debut, Everyone Who Pretended to Like me is Gone was filled with warm analog sounds, and an overall U2 instrumentation courtesy of drummer Matt Barrick, Guitarist Paul Maroon and bassist Peter Bauer (who I have labeled as the intimidator). The vocalist, Hamilton Leithauser sounds like Julian Casablancas (the druggie...err, I mean, the lead singer for The Strokes) plus the throat ingested cigarette smoking grit. Distributed through Warner Bros, their sophomore release, Bows and Arrows is filled with enough bells, clanking cymbals, and fuzzy guitars to label this as a questionable...dare I say, Christmas Album? In comparison to their debut, this album features much more structuring and a lot more storytelling.

The album opens up with "What's in it For Me," and like their previous album, the opening begins with distortion before Hamilton kicks in. The track is based around organ and heavy drums, and Leithauser's voice seems to be perfectly off pitch. In other words, he seems to be singing off key towards the end of every line, yet it sounds thick and wholehearted and exhumes a good vibe. The first single of the album is "The Rat," and it is a whopping dance anthem filled with wailing guitars and strong lyrics, "When I used to go out, I'd know everyone I saw, now I got out alone, if I go out at all." Unfortunately the next song is "No Christmas While I'm Talking," which completely slows the tempo down ten notches. It's an extreme momentum swing, and kills the energy "The Rat," manifested. "Little House of Savages," features a drum line march, and increases the pace a little, but is no where near the tempo of "The Rat." The standout of this track is Peter Bauer's bassline which is dominating, and seems to intimidate the other instruments. "My Old Man," picks up the momentum with hard drumming and an arguing guitar which provides negative feedback to to each thumping kick drum. The next couple of tracks, "138th Street," and "The North Pole," are filled with bells which hint Christmas atmospheres, though I have a feeling, "The North Pole" may actually be a tribute to porn star Peter North's series of films. Double check the lyrics when you listen. "Hang on Siobhan," is a western number driven by quirky piano and a noisy, shifting fretboard. The song is a comedic tale in first person about a man who can't seem to kick the alcohol and leave the bar to head home to a pissed of wife or girlfriend. "New Years Eve" has a flaming piano which makes me think Alicia Keys is on the bench, and "Thinking of a Dream I Had" possesses an aggressive guitar with snowflake organs to give a warm Christmas feel. The final, and title track envelops the album as a whole lyrically, "Your head is bent out of shape, but your feet are on the ground."

What separates The Walkmen from their counterparts are the albums calmer moments where the piano goes off transforming the track into a ballad rather than a grunge rearing guitar controlling song. The varying tempos of this album provide enough lusters to keep each track fresh. If you like the strokes, chances are you will definitely enjoy this album. At least give this LP a listen for the intimidator.



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