While the Walkmen probably should be considered their own entity, it's hard not to relate them to the superior Jonathan Fire*Eater, which broke up in 1998. With three Fire*Eater members, including those responsible for much of that band's sound -- guitarist Paul Maroon and keyboard player Walter Martin -- the Walkmen often exhibit definite echoes of their former band, but that's all it is. While they still work fuzzy, garaged-out shamble, much of the tightrope-walking danger and ramshackle charm is lacking. It's replaced with a muscularity that recalls a grimier Wedding Present, but without David Gedge's fat-cutting precision.
Opener Mazarin is the best pop act this side of the Flaming Lips. Just settle down with "The New American Apathy": chiming bells, a swirling drone of guitar, and an insistent little hook descending beneath an organ ride, as singer-guitarist Quentin Stolfuz asks, "Who wants to be oblivious?"
We do, if it involves listening to pop this perfect.