Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone

The Walkmen

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Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone Review

by Charles Spano

Waves of dark, shimmering guitar riffs cascade over you as the Walkmen conjure up ghosts of the Velvet Underground on "They're Winning," the introduction to the band's debut, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone. Made up of three survivors of the industry's one-time "future of rock & roll" band, Jonathan Fire*Eater (organist Walter Martin, guitarist Paul Maroon, and drummer Matt Barrick), along with bassist Peter Bauer and vocalist Hamilton Leithauser, the Walkmen combine the aforementioned group's skewed mod rock minus the major-label polish. Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone points at the band's roots -- New York City's late-'70s/early-'80s CBGB's scene. It is not so much that the Walkmen sound like Television or the Talking Heads or Blondie, but that they, like their NYC peers Interpol, the French Kicks, and Radio 4, evoke the gritty, urban energy so well. "Wake Up," previously released on the band's debut EP, is downright eerie as vocalist Hamilton Leithauser moans over the twisting melody. The title track is an intense spiral of space rock with spare but melodramatic string flourishes. "Revenge Wears No Wristwatch" is so stripped that it is propelled almost entirely by the drumbeat. "The Blizzard of '96," "Stop Talking," and the strangely catchy "We've Been Had" chime like a broken music box with an off-kilter, storybook glimmer. What world do these songs come from? Clearly, it is someplace magical -- a Tim Burton dream, a Wim Wenders skyline, maybe a comic book Gotham or manga artist Paul Pope's futuristic curry-scented, Tokyo-ized New York City. But, wherever it is, you'll be drawn into the parallel universe as soon as you push "play."

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