August 14, 2008

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The Walkmen, You & Me
Gigantic Records, Aug. 19

Comprised of three fifths of New York hipster-sensation Jonathan Fire Eater, who made a career out of trading Ivy League destiny for starved-artiste squalor, Walkmen create ant traps for the ears: non-doctor-recommended white noise hidden in fragrant, pretty pop trinkets. You & Me is a return, so it’s said, to their roots, which apparently had nothing to do with the Kenmore-dryer drum-n-bass mystery meat of 2002’s Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me is Gone, and thus a reckoning, I guess. Their last effort was ’06’s song-for-song cover of Harry Nilsson’s drunken, famous-guest-packed Pussy Cats album, ie an inside-joke album viewed through the prism of an inside-joke album.

Still here? Didn’t think so. Too bad, because You & Me is worth your while for a few reasons. Anyone who isn’t desperately hip — oh, forget that, anyone with ears — will immediately key in on the Bob Dylan vocal likeness and old-school engineering and at some point wonder what these guys are selling aside from archaeology and tight-panted posturing. But disaffection doesn’t get much sweeter than when they club Clinic with their own noise-bat (“Four Provinces”) and dabble in Harry Belafonte calypso (“Long Time Ahead of Us”) because, well, because why not. Yeah, much of this is like Dylan doing Quentin Tarantino a solid, but at least it has no interest whatsoever in ripping off The Strokes or making people feel like they have a say in their lives, unlike whatever you’re torturing yourself with now. B+Eric W. Saeger