The Walkmen – Bows and Arrows

I’ve had this CD for a very long time, and I thought about mentioning how everyone knows this band even if they didn’t think they did (through a car commercial; “We’ve Been Had” is instantly familiar to everyone even though no one knows the name of the band that made it) but I couldn’t find a way to include it and it doesn’t seem to do them any justice. I spent months listening to it, going over every single drum beat, bass line, every scratchy growl lead singer Hamilton Leithauser manages to produce, and I still couldn’t find the words to describe how amazingly good this release is. Building upon their last release, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone, The Walkmen have proven themselves to be band that will break free of this current bland garage rock revival scene to showcase music with unforgettable heart and melody.

The album opens with a very childlike tune where Leithauser is singing “What’s in it for me?” leading us into a blissfully slow moving world of guitars, drums, and bass. It’s a perfect beginning to an album that would prove to be moving, distinct, and unsuspecting. The next track rips you out of your blissful calm into a fast paced world of bitter cynicism. “The Rat,” which is the first single, begins with a deep pounding drum beat. After a few seconds the guitars and bass begin to pummel away that serenity the first track brought and replaces it with an unbridled intensity. Leithauser screams ever so spitefully, “You’ve got a nerve to be asking a favor / You’ve got a nerve to be calling my number” and immediately you are brought into a place that harkens your inner most hatred but as soon as that is brought out it is pulled back in by the remorseful “Can’t you hear me I’m calling out your name / Can’t you see me I’m pounding at your door” which brings a sense of heartache and pain to you, or more respectfully, me. It’s the musical equivalent of a shot to the heart: painful, as the truth always is, yet overall needed and looked back on as a good thing.

The entire album is a mix of slow and fast tracks, each with its own appeal and different sound. “Hang On Siobhan” is one of the slower tracks that caught hold of my mind. Every time I would think of the album I would play this song in my head. It begins with a quiet little piano melody playing over muted drums and guitars. The music, which is innocent and full of childlike splendor, matched with the lyrics, which are very adult and downtrodden, creates this deceiving track that keeps me singing it for weeks on end. “Thinking Of A Dream I Had” opens with the lyrics “I’m waiting on a subway line / I’m waiting for a train to arrive / I’m thinking of a dream I had” and with that The Walkmen have basically described my entire life. The constant melody and sound makes this song hard to refuse. I’ve never been as completely connected to a song as I am with this one. The lyrics provide someone like me with internal dialogue that can be sung to the world and those that surround me. I’ll be sure to one day stand in front of my house screaming, “Don’t lead me on!”

So to recap: 1. This CD is amazing in more than one way. 2. The tracks provide constant amusement and hours of introspective thought 3. I think I’ve formed a slight love affair with Bows and Arrows. These former car commercial kings (ha! I managed to work it in somewhere) have released an album able to stimulate even the weakest of minds.

(Record Collection Music)

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