Album Cover
The Walkmen
Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone
March 26, 2002


My sister: He sounds drunk...
A friend: It's like the band, James, on heroin.
I say: Rock'n'roll, baby!

The following are my thoughts and knee-jerk reactions to The Walkmen's debut album, Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone. 'Cause it's practically worth a track-by-track play, and sometimes a girl needs a break from paragraph structure. Besides, the kids on the cover are gonna kick my ass if I don't.

They're Winning: Rolling drumbeat accompanied by guitar to point of crashing noises... Hey, wait a minute! You know, it hurts my feelings when bands feel they need to warm-up the listener by starting off with a non-vocal, instrumentally explorative track. I can handle some... Oh, wait, here's the singing. Well, this works out quite nicely then.

Wake Up: Each instrument is introduced tentatively, yet harshly. We all know the story of the monkeys who spent enough time throwing typewriters at each other long enough to bash out William's greatest works. I'm skeptical, but it relates nicely to the cautionary feel each band member seems to have as they play their parts, and-all of a sudden-the melody clicks with Leithauser's voice, and a rockin' song emerges.

Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone: Techno music for depressed hipsters. FYI: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "depressed hipsters" comprise 10% of the New York population. So, cry your single tear, pop some e, and semi-nod your head like you've never nodded before. Leithauser continues the trend of apparently paying little attention to the instrument pacing [particularly the frantic drumming], taking his sweet time with each stretched out syllable.

Revenge Wears No Wristwatch: This track contains more space that allows the listener to observe between the lines and explore The Walkmen's sound. Drums, guitars, and piano take turns and compliment each other in the off beat.

The Blizzard of '96: Lotsa ambient noise with tambourine'ish sound effect for snow. The upright piano gets frontline, with pleasant rolling chords. I feel they're playing in an abandoned warehouse... perhaps during a blizzard? Years ago?

French Vacation: Take one part Interpol intro and interludes, one part Radiohead chorus, a dash of The Walkmen here and there, and a fifth of gin. Shake this mofo up, add a few ice cubes, and you have a nice, albeit sparse song about drinking alone. Hauntingly distant vocals close up this track nicely.

Stop Talking: The Blizzard of '96 (remiiiix!). Oh, wait, different song? Okay... Dig the lyrics though. "After we're done, I can still feel the pain in my free time."

We've Been Had: The upright piano gets the spotlight once again, and it's worth an immediate listen. The beautiful muted melody carries this subtle song through ragtime goodness.

Roll Down the Line: This track has a post-modern feel to it. Once again, the vocal off-pace with the instruments leads to a disconcerting, uneasy feel.

That's the Punchline: Oh, I dunno...The guitar, bass, and drums are strong on this track, while the upright adds a nice touch at the chorus. There, happy?

It Should Take a While: This would be the perfect song to accompany a drunkard stumbling and sliding down a flight of stairs. Oh yeah, in slow motion. I choose to skip musical analysis.

Rue the Day: The Walkmen at their best; this is Bows and Arrows before its time. This song has it all! Instruments are beautifully integrated in under a minute. Lyrically, this is a Death Cab for Cutie's "We Looked Like Giants" predecessor: "We tip toed down to my basement/Never done such things before." As the song drifts into silence, I'm reminded of an adult version of running after the fading sounds of an ice-cream truck. Even the last lyrics echo this nostalgic sentiment: "I'm a lucky guy now/But I never know it 'til it's gone."

I'm Never Bored: Screechy notes with whiny guitars echo with The Voice. However, whiny guitars end up pretty damn good compared to the vocals.


The voice. Sometimes I like it; sometimes Leithauser uses it as a weapon. His high-register ventures give me the bad-kind of goose bumps; James Mercer he ain't. He doesn't sing individual notes nearly as often as he seems to slide from one word to the next. Coupled with his two-pack-a-day scratchiness and attempts at high-pitch borders on irritability, while simultaneously lending a unique feel to The Walkmen. A fine line to walk, sometimes overstepped, but mostly kept under control in the album.

The music. At times it feels that each band member has been practicing their respective instruments in different rooms, and only when they're ready to record do they try it all together. Therefore, when a song clicks, it sounds all the more amazing.

Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone gets a warm handshake as a solid debut. The quality wavers in uncertainty with melody blunders and missteps, but these hesitations are mild compared to the satisfaction the album garners as a whole.

Jessica Mattila

Track List

  1. They're Winning
  2. Wake Up
  3. Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone
  4. Revenge Wears No Wristwatch
  5. The Blizzard of '96
  6. French Vacation
  7. Stop Talking
  8. We've Been Had
  9. Roll Down the Line
  10. That's the Punch Line
  11. It Should Take a While
  12. Rue the Day
  13. I'm Never Bored