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Beyond The Rat
on 26 May 2009
The Walkmen were formed in 2000 in New York and ever since have made a name for themselves for being rather volatile but beautifully distinctive at the same time. There first album in 2002; Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone is in itself an exceptional debut by anybody standards, but the follow up for me in 2004 was even better.
Bows + Arrows was released on Warner subsidiary Record Collection in February 2004, it very much crosses a divide between Indie music and the time when having an organ and a growly vocalist meant you were likely to be dangerous to society. That said, the moments of high energy on this LP are not as frequent as the bands hit single from the album might have suggested. Instead the album mostly follows a sweet and atmospheric path.
The album begins with What's In It For Me, a charming song, the kind of song that is good for the soul, lovely stuff. This is in stark contrast to track two, the song which probably sold the album in the first instance; The Rat is a proper modern great, a right stomper filled with angst and bitterness in a kind of non spoilt Emo way, in closing it is fabulous but I feel it does harm the album somewhat.
The Rat maybe an Indie anthem for the millennium, however I feel it does prevent further exposure towards the other, more mellower gems that can be found on this album. Take track six for example, 138th Street or Hang On, Siobhan, as songs they are so unassuming and subtly radiant, it's a shame that The Walkmen are pigeon holed and famed for music which is entirely different.
If niceness isn't for you and you want more of the growls and sneers from lead vocalist Hamilton Leithauser, than there is some fine moments of that kind of thing scattered throughout this LP; Little House of Savages is as angry and dreamy as they come and one of my favourite songs from the past decade can also be found on this album; the belting Thinking of a Dream I Had, with its perfect use of mood and energy.
Granted this album is famed mainly for the marauding song The Rat, however if you delve deeper the album suddenly becomes a fascinating piece of work, instead of being an average Indie album I find it to be one of the most stark and striking albums from the past decade, bringing atmosphere to the 2000's, certainly worth a look in my humble opinion.