Bows + Arrows
Bows + Arrows (resequenced)
Brent Sallay, RED perfectionist
First, allow me to
explain. Bows + Arrows, the new record by The Walkmen, has some incredible
songs on it. It’s just sequenced wrong. For example, track three, “No
Christmas While I’m Talking,” is a gorgeous little number, but
it’s glacially slow, and could lose the listener’s interest after
the strong one-two punch of tracks…one and two. Likewise, track five, “My
Old Man,” while rather welcome so early on in the proceedings, was quite
simply meant to close out the album (much like “Perception Room” on
The Lilys’ similarly ill-sequenced Precollection from last year).
So let me just offer you the following suggestion:
Buy this album (for it is grand), then set your CD
program to play Bows + Arrows in the following order:
1, 2, 7, 11, 8, 4, 10, 6, 9, 3, 5. Trust me on this.
Remember that time I said it probably wouldn’t
be such a good idea to lift that tow truck over your
head with the guy still in it?
But let's get talkin’ ’bout the music. The members of The Walkmen
take three parts Jonathan Fire*Eater, two parts wall-of-sound guitars and a
teaspoon of love and shoves it all up your ears like so many sugar-coated Q-tips.
Often compared with fellow New Yorkers The Strokes
and Interpol, The Walkmen is certainly the least
maligned of the neo-post-punk-cum-garage-band revival
bands that the kids can’t seem to get enough
of these days, and with reason. Bows + Arrows takes
the wicked subtlety of the band’s glorious
debut, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone,
and rips it a new one, all Justin Timberlake-like.
Only The Walkmen boys ain’t apologizin’ for
The truth be known, I miss some of the ambience
and intricacy of Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me
Is Gone. That album, as rewarding as it was to the
few lucky enough to hear it, could never reach as
large an audience as Bows + Arrows is sure to do.
Fortunately though, The Walkmen didn’t have
to sell out to make it big.
And, oh yes, mark my words: make it big they will.
I’ve already mentioned
The Strokes. Anybody heard of a little band called U2? Well, maybe not that
big. But if U2 had put out this album (and believe me, there was a time when
the band could have), I just don’t think the world could have handled
it. Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come to PUT YOUR WALKMEN ON.
The Pink Abyss
The Shalabi Effect
I was a huge fan
of the Shalabi Effect’s last album, The Trial of St. Orange. It was like
relaxing on a farm, being gently lulled to sleep, then dreaming about the bomb
dropping, lying still as the sirens blared around you, still soft and lulling
in their own way, then hearing the screams and feeling sad for the victims,
but feeling their silent joys as they run up to touch you, only to be awakened
suddenly in your suburban home by your mom feeding you hot chicken soup from
a giant wooden spoon.
The first four tracks of The Pink Abyss are truly
breathtaking, quite literally actually, as the first
track sounds as if it is doing just that, leading
into “Bright Guilty World,” the only
song with discernible vocals, a chilling number that
fits cozily somewhere between Portishead and The
Violent Femmes. This segues into the third track,
which serves merely to provide a tense bridge until
the next track, at which point, enter track four:
the sublime “Blue Sunshine.”
Yeah, I’m biased. Broken Social Scene made
my favorite album of the last year and a half. You
feature a guy from that band (i.e. Charles Spearin
on trumpet) on one of your songs, odds are I’m
going to love it. But this song only wins me over
all over again. Not only is it the best song on the
album, it will cheer you up instantly, even if you’re
not really sad, or Jeremy will give you your money
Unfortunately, the album doesn’t have much
anywhere else to go after that. The rest of the album,
while still listenable, is mostly a lot of drugged-out
noodling, occasionally interesting, but nearly formless
and meandering for more time than I was interested
to invest in it. So I can’t entirely recommend
the album. But I can say that ‘Shalabi’ and ‘Effect’ are
two words you should definitely commit to memory,
lest they fall prey to the pink abyss of your— ah,