Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone was released nearly ten years ago (March 2002). I’ve heard a fair share of records in my time and I can’t say that I’ve ever listened to one quite like this one. The Walkmen are — above most other things — a very distinct band and that categorization began with this record. Sure, the band came about after the break-ups of Jonathan Fire*Eater and The Recoys, but those bands didn’t sound much like The Walkmen. Jonathan was a proto-punk Velvet Underground/Jonathan Richman kind of thing while The Recoys had a dirty, early rock and roll thing going on. Two Recoys songs, “That’s The Punchline” and “Blizzard of ’93” (later “…of ’96”), would end up appearing on Everyone Who in clearer, more atmospheric conditions. But anyway, the reason why The Walkmen are so different than other bands (and why this is proven on Everyone) is Hamilton’s vocal delivery, the twinkling, yet dark-in-an-instant organ, and the one sharp biting guitarist that is Paul Maroon. And let’s not forget Matt Barrick’s drumming (particularly noteworthy on “Wake Up”).
At any rate, I’m very glad this record is being re-issued on vinyl. It’s only available in limited quantity (1,000 are being pressed) for pre-order so head to The Walkmen’s website to do that.
Title: Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone Band: The Walkmen Release: 2002 Label: Startime International
1. “They’re Winning” – A 2. “Wake Up” – A+ 3. “Everyone Who Pretended” – A+
4. “Revenge Wears No Wristwatch” – A 5. “The Blizzard of ’96” – A- 6. “French Vacation” – A 7. “Stop Talking” – A 8. “We’ve Been Had” – A 9. “Roll Down The Line” – A-
10. “That’s The Punch Line” – A 11. “It Should Take A While” – A- 12. “Rue The Day” – A- 13. “I’m Never Bored” – A 14. “Don’t Be Long” – A-
Comments: This was hardly a debut record in the traditional sense. All five members arrived in the band in 2000 after performing in one of two polished bands: Jonathan Fire*Eater or The Recoys. Fire*Eater landed a major label deal with Dreamworks and were a significant influence on The Strokes while The Recoys were less of a big deal, but drew their sound from “vintage” garage groups like the Troggs and Standells. The group wasn’t really young at the time of this recording. All members were at least 25 and had significant experience at their individual schticks. They had, what seems evident now, a great handle on how they wanted to sound. Even now critics are at a loss in terms of how to really describe the band in words and labels that modern listeners may feel comfortable with. It’s bare bones and minimalistically dreamy, but very real. Just enough keyboards, just enough lead, just enough bass, barely surfacing rhythym, and penetrating vocals. When I first bought this record last summer, I remember I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I am now. It definitely takes a few listens to just take in what the Walkmen have to offer here. This isn’t the best album from the group, but it does give kids like you and me a pretty good look at the beginnings of a band that hasn’t matured all that much since their formation. That’s saying a lot.