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RED Reviews
by Brent Sallay

Bows + Arrows
The Walkmen
Record Collection

Bows + Arrows (resequenced)
The Walkmen
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 it.

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 back. Promise.

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, forget it.

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