Ayo Jegede
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May 01, 2004
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Rock Music Reviews
The Walkmen
Bows + Arrows

Amidst the fanfarronade given to the garage movement from 2001 up until now, The Walkmen, a quintet consisting of Jonathan Fire Eater and The Recoys alumni, recorded Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone in 2002. what distinguished the outfit from their more popular ilk was the shimmering, gentle substrata occupying their 2002 effort, employing a minutia of the stripped down hammer-and-chug guitar and drums popular with the genre. the same went for their labelmates The French Kicks, whose debut album One Time Bells, had a refreshing pop aspect. like any good musicians The Walkmen viewed a particular genre as a sufficient means of artistic expression, not a necessary one. Everyone Who Pretended... went without little public acknowledgment but sufficient critical acclaim.

Today it seems that the mindless garage behemoth has been quelled somewhat. The Strokes last album, Room on Fire, though good, wasn't the galvanizing force required to further propel the genre further. and though pieces by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phantom Planet, and TV On The Radio reached a critical zenith, their spots in the public light were overshadowed by the typical 2-hit pop/rap combo we're used to. with demand for their genre faded, The Walkmen set out to record a garage piece uncorrupted by corporate demand (this may be the same reason than Phantom Planet opted for garage as well). with that said, Bows + Arrows stands as a piece firmly established in a garage locus but exercises the same personality evident on their 2002 work. lead singer Hamilton Leithauser defines the album not only with coarse wails but also a rainbow of emotions.

'The Rat,' the band's current single, is tooth-and-nail garage tough. full of angular, acute guitars that never throttle for the next 4 minutes. Leithauser keeps with the pace and fuel himself, his voice emanating a sense of retribution as he sings, 'You've got a nerve to be askin' for favors...' the same weight can be heard on 'Little House of Savages,' though using a bit more melody than the prior. Bows + Arrows still recalls the aural easiness of Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me... in certain parts, as with the the closing title track and 'What's In It For Me.' i wouldn't consider current pieces by The Walkmen, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio and others as some sort of garage revanche; at least not of the public type. nonetheless Bows + Arrows is, without a doubt, an impeccable sophomore effort by a group of experienced musicians that will surely be appreciated by anyone with an ear for brilliance.

Definitely top 10.

Release date: February 3, 2004
Label: Record Collection
Rating: 9.5 / 10

[RMR]