Bows & Arrows - The Walkmen
Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Confident, daring, regal, and altogether incredible, Bows & Arrows knows its bounds and casually out-steps them; simply put, it is the best record released this year.
  2. Bows and Arrows reveals a band that's grown tighter, hungrier, and more varied since last time. [6 Feb 2004]
  3. Each of these songs displays a mastery of craft rarely heard.
  4. Looks back to prehistoric U2 and Cure records for inspiration.
  5. Bows and Arrows is an album of grandiose pleasures, the sound of a band not just making good on the promise of their debut, but expanding every which way at once, merging distinctive songcraft with decadent theatrics, and tethering themselves to a confidence that they, unlike others, will survive the sea-change of a deflating scene.
  6. Though sonically similar to its predecessor, the new album sets aside whimsical wandering to make room for more straight-for-the-heart (by way of the throat) conviction; simply put, it rocks harder.
  7. It's tumultuous. It's breathtaking. It's expressive without the barest hint of Radiomuse indulgence.
  8. This is a work that blends a preoccupation with both the maudlin and mundane with the musical sensibility of the Factory Records collection.
  9. Musically, the Walkmen are not only tighter, but also more purposeful.
  10. Overwhelmingly, it all adds up to an album that will never make a fuss in your collection, but every now and then you'll remember how much you love it.
  11. Even with a couple of missteps, this is a solid album that will likely stay in heavy rotation on your stereo for months to come.
  12. 80
    Sodden with emotional profundity. [May 2004, p.104]
  13. 80
    Bright, brash rock songs colored by staccato rhythms, new wave keyboards, and jagged speedy-clean guitars are juxtaposed with drony, understated post-Velvets moments. [#6, p.86]
  14. Bows + Arrows may not be a drastic change from Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone, but their music, built on loud guitars and organs and strange reflections and remembrances, is so unique that drastic change isn't necessary, and simply having more of it around is more than enough.
  15. The songwriting and production are sharper and the scope is decidedly larger, capturing the band’s conflicting urge to play the introspective balladeer and the pub-crawling mod-rocker.
  16. Quite simply, 'Bows + Arrows' is a Great American Record, taking the qualities most admired in the last 35 years of US rock and barbecuing them together.
  17. Intriguing, stylish stuff. [May 2004, p.111]
  18. The Walkmen have something the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs are lacking: passion.
  19. This is at once a record to rock out to, a record to contemplate, and a record to immediately buy if you think it impossible for a band this well-hyped to defy their own press.
  20. All in all, the album is a good one, but still feels a small step away from being great.
  21. Many numbers, such as the unbearably meandering No Christmas While I’m Talking, present themselves as merely background music - pleasant enough, sure, but doing little to draw the listener’s attention.
  22. 60
    Bows & Arrows might seem like the ideal rock'n'roll yuletide soundtrack--and it is, but only for those who spend their Christmases in dive bars with nothing but a gold-hearted hooker, bottomless highball glass and volume of Bukowski poetry for company. [May 2004, p.100]
  23. Yet where the music is hard-hitting, the hoarse, almost drunken vocal style of lead singer Hamilton Leithauser can be grating.
  24. I'm not writing the Walkmen off just yet, but this is a genre that you can't afford to stay in one place and hope to keep an edge on the competition.
  25. Unlike more polished bands with little to say after two releases, the Walkmen sound like they're gradually striding into some big shoes. [Mar 2004, p.106]
  26. The carefully constructed sonics, though beautiful, can be so snoozily contemplative.
  27. ‘Bows And Arrows’ isn’t a bad album, merely average, struggling to match the level of excitement generated by the brilliant single ‘The Rat’.
  28. With his gasping vocals serving up warmed-over pleas, Hamilton Leithauser aches but never sounds like he's really hurting.
  29. 40
    Unrushed, spacious, and duller than a four-hour hayride. [Mar 2004, p.130]
User Score
9.1

Universal acclaim- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 24
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 24
  3. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. Oct 9, 2013
    10
    Still the greatest article from the best rock 'n' roll band of my time. There's not a lackluster moment among these 11 songs, and I couldn'tStill the greatest article from the best rock 'n' roll band of my time. There's not a lackluster moment among these 11 songs, and I couldn't recommend it more for all of the fellow sad-bastard, recovering Smiths fans out there. Hamilton Leithauser is a saint. Full Review »
  2. Jun 20, 2012
    7
    These guys are a proper indie rock band. Their music just oozes attitude, rebellion and class. They've got a unique style about them thatThese guys are a proper indie rock band. Their music just oozes attitude, rebellion and class. They've got a unique style about them that means you know straight away when your listening to a Walkmen record. This record for me is a bit below their strongest work but has some magnificient moments on it all the same. Of course you have "The Rat", as good an indie rock belter as you'll ever hear. It's got plenty of other nice moments but for me it lacks the consistency of their later records. Full Review »
  3. AshC
    Feb 4, 2007
    10
    I think Brad's got it right. Perhaps it's the sequencing of the tracks, the lyrical content which seeps in subconsciously or the I think Brad's got it right. Perhaps it's the sequencing of the tracks, the lyrical content which seeps in subconsciously or the warmth of the production, there is just that something special about this album which lifts it above the other indie-rock competitors. Bows + Arrows creates a very pronounced late-night/drunken-yet-still-hopeful mood that lingers long after the final track. A genuine classic. Full Review »