8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Hits the mark,
This review is from: Bows & Arrows (Audio CD)
"Bows & Arrows" doesn't stray far from the first album by the New York-based (and D.C.-spawned) Walkmen, but it stays on firm ground. It has some duller moments (such as the plodding closing track) but manages overall to provide some good solid rock with a few alluring flourishes.
A slow, reverberating riff opens to the mournful question, "What In It For Me?", before kicking off into a round of solid rock songs (the vaguely new-wave "Rat," the rather strange "House of Savages"), melancholy laments ("No Christmas While I'm Talking," the music-box ballad "Hang on Siobhan") before winding up with the soaring rocker "Thinking of a Dream I Had" and the unexceptional title track.
Perhaps the biggest problem with "Bows & Arrows" is the hesitant quality -- nothing ever breaks loose. It may please you, but it won't blow you off your feet. But the unpolished atmosphere of it will make your spine tingle at times, and it hints that the Walkmen may get even better.
The guitar work tends to range from good to outstanding, especially when it erupts in "Rat" or twangs in "My Old Man," with a backdrop of thunderous percussion. Twining through it all is an undercurrent of piano and organs, a shivery wall of synths that are twisted every which way. At times, the synths even sound a bit like a string chorus.
Frontman Hamilton Leithauser has a sort of raw, hoarse voice, a bit like a very desperate Bob Dylan. At times ("My Old Man") the music drowns him out, but most of the time he adds to the atmosphere. Not to mention the raw emotion he gives to lines like "You've got a nerve to be asking a favor/You've got a nerve to be calling my number/I know we've been through this before ."
It's easy to lump the Walkmen in with other "the" bands, but their moody brand of rock is a good, solid listen. Despite a few sub-par songs, "Bows & Arrows" hits the bull's eye.