The Walkmen Bows and Arrows

[Record Collection; 2004]

Rating: 2.5/5

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

Thanks Saturn. Your ad for the apparently smashing, successful ION horseless carriage introduced me to the Walkmen, and we've had a reasonably successful working relationship since then. Their sound was a unique take on the garage-revival that swept the land two years ago, and I happily consumed and enjoyed it. Sure, after a while (longer than with most bands, I might add) it wore a little thin, but you can't expect every album to be a timeless classic. So, Walkmen, you planted yourself at or near the top of the surging pile of similar acts.

So, why'd you make almost exactly the same album again? Okay, a few tracks have some cool new facets to them, like the newfound angularity and growls of "Little House of Savages" and the flamed piano and woodblocks that drive "New Year's Eve." And the rhythm section keeps rock-solid beats coming. But, that's damning with faint praise, boys. We all loved your wails and chamber-y indie rock, but its time to move on. In fact, this is a plague endemic to all indie rock. Some people get free passes, like the Shins who write amazing pop songs with lyrics even I enjoy, and usually I couldn't care less. The Wrens are too varied to convict so easily, and I doubt the Strokes have any plans to change their winning formula. Sadly, you, the Walkmen, don't get such a wide berth. To stay relevant, you've gotta keep the "Wow!" moments coming, and you didn't muster nearly enough. You made a pretty decent album that will probably spread your name a lot wider than your superior-by-virtue-of-chronology debut, but I know I'm staying put.

That goes for the rest of you slacking bands, too. I'm not too worried since each successive year seems to bring more and more innovation, but I'm a little disappointed at this product from such a promising outfit. I'm not writing the Walkmen off just yet, but this is a genre that you can't afford to stay in one place and hope to keep an edge on the competition. They've definitely lost theirs, though.

1. What's in It for Me
2. The Rat
3. No Christmas While I'm Talking
4. Little House of Savages
5. My Old Man -
6. 138th St.
7. The North Pole
8. Hang on Siobhan
9. New Year's Eve
10. Thinking of a Dream I Had
11. Bows and Arrows

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