Put The Walkmen in Your Walkman
Bows + Arrows is not for the superstitious, for The Walkmen may well have disproved the existence of that ever-lurking denizen, the sophomore jinx. On their second album this New York City quintet has not only surpassed the achievements of their innovative debut, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone, but have shown that they are more interesting than Interpol, and more inspired than the Strokes.
Where the organ-heavy, creepy carnival feel that characterized the first album got lost in itself at times, B+A exhibits a sharper focus while maintaining a sound that is unmistakably The Walkmen. The first track, â€šÃ„ÃºWhatâ€šÃ„Ã´s in it for Me,â€šÃ„Ã¹ serves as a recap for the last album, reintroducing the band. However, before there is even a hazard of becoming mired, â€šÃ„ÃºThe Ratâ€šÃ„Ã¹ bursts open with fevered guitars and solid drums before Hamilton Leithauser begins his desperately passionate vocals. Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s the albumâ€šÃ„Ã´s greatest triumph. The mellower songs demonstrate Leithauserâ€šÃ„Ã´s Bob Dylan/Lou Reed inspired sing-speak, and on â€šÃ„ÃºHang On, Siobhan,â€šÃ„Ã¹ it plays perfectly off of Paul Maroonâ€šÃ„Ã´s delicately playful piano. If The Walkmen have forfeited any innovation in favor of structure, it is well worth the sacrifice, because itâ€šÃ„Ã´s rare to find an album where so many elements come together so seamlessly that your auditory receptors declare a national holiday. With its ambient organ, persistent drums, unyielding guitars, and wavering vocals, â€šÃ„ÃºThinking of a Dream I Hadâ€šÃ„Ã¹ expresses the cohesion The Walkmen have achieved after only two albums. With B+A, The Walkmen have won the day, and you will too when you listen to it.