Music » CD Reviews

The Walkmen

Pussy Cats Starring the Walkmen (Record Collection)

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The Walkmen recorded Pussy Cats Starring the Walkmen as a spontaneous send-off to their Brooklyn studio, a building slated for demolition. To that we say, Who cares? With the exception of a few songs off its past two albums, including "The Rat" and "Louisiana," Pussy Cats stands as the band's best work since its debut, 2002's Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone.

A high-spirited recreation of Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats, both this tribute and its 1974 predecessor (featuring John Lennon during his infamous "lost weekend") are playful and desperate, baroque and broke -- smelling of open windows, dirty bathrobes, and overloaded ashtrays. Half the songs are covers: "Subterranean Homesick Blues," "Loop De Loop," "Rock Around the Clock," and the arresting opener, a weeping version of Jimmy Cliff's "Too Many Rivers to Cross," on which Walkmen singer Hamilton Leithauser transforms his gravelly voice into a bed of jagged slate.

The centerpiece remains, of course, Nilsson's own "All My Life," an upbeat ditty that brings a greasy, Bizet-like string section into the shenanigans. They call the original the ultimate buddy album of the '70s. Well, the updated version is a pal to lost weekenders everywhere.

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