The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off
When Dylan went electric there were certain people who couldn't cope with it. From being proclaimed as the king of folk and acoustic meanderings, he got himself a full on backing band and played "fucking loud". If The Walkmen had been at the infamous '66 Albert Hall gig, they wouldn't have been shouting "Judas" but shouting and cheering the rock n roll riffs and reworkings that Dylan was achieving.
After two well received albums The Walkmen have decided to try something a little different - something a bit more stripped down and laid back than the rather glorious Bows & Arrows and they've taken plenty of cues from Dylan's electric phase in the 60's. The problem with A Hundred Miles Off is that is lacks the energy and direction of their best work and, in certain places, just sounds like a blatant rip off of Dylan's croaked vocals and chiming rock n roll riffs. Gone are the energetic and thumping tunes like The Rat from Bows & Arrows which let rip such a blistering noise from your speakers that even the straightest-laced indie-kid would get onto the dance floor.
The songs here are rarely more than guitar, a distant rhythm section and Walter Martin's croaky and half-arsed delivered vocals with occasional organ infused in the mix. There's a lack of momentum, the aforementioned rhythm section seem to be playing a different tune, unrelated to anything else going on.
That's not to say that there's nothing on here to enjoy, the opening track and lead single Louisiana is a great slice of R'n'B infused rock n roll with a catchy riff that sounds like it's come through some time tunnel from 1968. Danny's At The Wedding is also a belter of a tune, starting with an almost Interpol-esque riff, the vocals seem to be duelling with it for your attention and echoing each other. Tenley Town is another rare highlight, all hacksaw guitars and it's epileptic fit drums thrashing around it adds some well needed urgency to the record, it just comes a little too late.
This is a brave effort then to try something a little different but they've lost sight of what they do really well. They're not quite a hundred miles off from getting it spot on, but maybe a better map would help.