The Walkmen
Pussy Cats Starring the Walkmen Record Collection http://www.tinymixtapes.com//sites/default/files/arton613_1.jpg

[Record Collection; 2006]

Rating: 4/5 4 / 5 (0)

Styles: indie rock, garage rock
Others: Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, Jonathan Fire*Eater


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Two albums in one year! The Walkmen are slowly heading into Ryan Adams territory. A Hundred Miles Off even came close to bombing like half of Adams' catalogue. Perhaps The Walkmen were just stuck in a rut. After so many expectations to make another Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone (or even a vamped up version of Bows & Arrows), the same ol,' same ol' of A Hundred Miles Off just stuck in so many people's crawls. Somehow remaking a cult favorite capturing the drunken voyeurism and debauchery of Harry Nilsson and John Lennon's most infamous time (the "lost weekend") has become the vehicle to forgetting every bad move The Walkmen have made in 2006. That's a lot of pressure to put on Pussy Cats Starring the Walkmen, but unlike New York brethren Alex Rodriguez, The Walkmen deliver in the clutch.

But why Pussy Cats?

This is the easiest question to answer, especially if you've ever given the original recording a spin or two. There's camaraderie, sincerity, and ego to everything contained in the Nilsson classic. Alcohol became a demon for hair metal gods and unfulfilled musicians, but Nilsson was the last of a dying breed: those who drank to be at their best. No one will ever top the antics and talent of Dean Martin with a drink in their hand, but as the days of the sloshed bard have all but died, it's a comfort to snuggle up to Pussy Cats Starring the Walkmen and catch the wafting smell of rum. And while The Walkmen haven't expanded or improved on the classics, they've managed to channel their inner drunkard to recreate every ounce of gin-soaked emotion the original recording has to offer.

The Walkmen aren't asking you to choose their updated Pussy Cats, but rather to celebrate their spirit in an album that brims with heart and soul. They capture the heartbreak and longing of Lennon-through-Nilsson with album opener "Many Rivers to Cross," and continue to ride those powerful coattails right on through the dramatic darkness of "Black Sails" and the sad piano waltz "Don't Forget Me." But tugging at the heartstrings through cover songs is nothing new. Any downtrodden faker can belt out the most gut-wrenching classic if they've got the talent. It's the more up-tempo numbers (and oddly, the covers Nilsson and Lennon recorded) that reveal The Walkmen's true grasp of Pussy Cats. "Rock Around the Clock" combines '70s fuzz and '50s spunk that even Bill Haley could still dance to. The playfully raucous "Subterranean Homesick Blues" brings to life the Bob Dylan tongue twister with a chorus of bumbling vocals and party music.

Pussy Cats Starring the Walkmen more than makes up for the lackluster A Hundred Miles Off. Even if it's a straight lift of a cover album, so what? The Walkmen prove themselves to be worthy torchbearers to Harry Nilsson's brand of tequila sunrise pop-rock. Going back to Everyone Who Pretends, it's not hard to connect the dots from The Walkmen of then to the band of now, jumping head-first into an album 30 years old and seldom heard – it's the same wild piano tinkering, lung-draining crooning, and unlimited energy. Pussy Cats may not mark a new chapter in the tale of The Walkmen, but it dispels the myth that the band are nothing more than a one-trick pony, even if the Nilsson/Lennon epic is just a predecessor to The Walkmen sound. Too many indie acts forget their roots, but The Walkmen, proving they are truly are grounded in the moment, round the bases in style, as A-Rod must settle on how to spend his $250 million salary as another year passes by.

1. Many Rivers to Cross
2. Subterranean Homesick Blues
3. Don't Forget Me
4. All My Life
5. Old Forgotten Soldier
6. Save the Last Dance
7. Mucho Mongo
8. Loop de Loop
9. Black Sails
10. Rock Around the Clock