Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Walkmen - Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone

Release Date: March 26, 2002

★★★★★ Tracks:

Wake Up

French Vacation

We've Been Had

Hands down Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone wins coolest fucking album cover of the millennium so far -- a timeless photograph of late 19th century tough as nails, New York City newsboys. The record is pretty damn good, too.

I first heard the Walkmen through what is probably their most popular single, released a few years after this record, “The Rat." An immediately catchy and engaging song, it actually left me somewhat disappointed by most of the Walkmen I sampled thereafter. But after giving their records a few more chances I realized it was only because I was impatient, seeking the immediate gratification "The Rat" offered upon introduction. Once I learned that’s not what the Walkmen were all about, I was much better off.

Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone reveals itself slowly, as stronger tracks like “French Vacation" and “Wake Up” take a minimalist approach to instrumentation which could give off the illusion of being dull initially, but rewards for repeated listens. By constructing their own studio, carefully choosing their instruments and production style, the Walkmen create a uniquely eerie, classic rock'n'roll feel which allows plenty of space for the music to breathe. Most of the tracks expand their atmospheres as they further develop, dominated by an old-fashioned stand-up piano and Paul Maroon’s classic rock’n’roll guitar sound, probably compliments of a Gibson ES-135 or similar-style Back to the Future hollow-bodied guitar.

The best track is "We've Been Had," a song featured in a Saturn commercial, Hamilton Leithauser sings about the hardships of post-college life, and most likely more specifically moving to New York after school to try and pursue a music career -- something most of us NY transplants can relate to. A beautiful piano line accompanies him along for the ride.

"See me age 19 with some dumb haircut
From 1960 moving to New York City
Live with my friends there
We're all taking the same steps
They're foolish now"