By now, anyone who has heard or heard of The Walkmen’s new album, Bows and Arrows, knows about “The Rat.” Not “rat” in the sense of a stinking, lecherous, misbegotten individual who has left morals and social recourse behind, but rather, “The Rat,” in the sense of an incredibly rocked out lamentation on duty, friendship and the need for attention.
The second song on the album, “The Rat” is four minutes 22 seconds of pent up geek rock fury let loose in the form of a broken amp and a double time hi-hat. The song is so powerful and so timely, that one is tempted to describe it as simply, “Now.”
Unfortunately, there is an entire album at hand, and one would be remiss to ignore the other wonders of Bows and Arrows simply for the furthering of one great song among many. Before the sonic asphyxiation of, “The Rat,” The Walkmen work to create a questioning, pleading tone with the album opener, “What’s in it For Me.” Much could be made of the cut’s baiting title, though the song’s true strength lies in its stunning restraint and pulsing back beat.
“Little House of Savages” capitalizes on a delayed chorus, living up to the rocking expectations hinted at in, “The Rat,” while the plodding, “New Year’s Eve,” gives way to a sly sense of humor and rhythm.
The Walkmen are a band able to sneak in and cut you to the bone seemingly without lifting a finger. Insidious and deceptive, their inviting melodies and warm production eventually crash into a wall of rage and drum rolls, shocking the listener into taking notice and reveling in the waste of what had come before.
“Thinking of a Dream I Had” features a gutting, whiplash guitar riff over tumbling bass and drums, creating a sweeping sound that carries the album over the edge, setting the stage for the scathing retorts offered in the title track.
Bookended with a tender surface, only to give way to a crippling self-awareness, Bows and Arrows expertly explores a myriad of themes and emotions with the subtlety and grandeur of an old master. Oh, and that second song totally rules.