379 to 50: #13 “The Rat” by The Walkmen

The Walkmen The Rat

No unlucky 13 in my 379 to 50 favourite songs rundown, with the joyful abandon of “The Rat” by The Walkmen.

An absolute jackhammer of a rock’n’roll tune, I can still vividly remember hearing “The Rat” for the first time in 2004 – which was during the small time overlap when I moved to a new flat with Sky and MTV still actually showed at least some music.  MTV2 used to be a fairly reliable watch back then for a smattering of appealing new videos, and one night with just half an eye on the TV, “The Rat” jumped onto the screen and instantly demanded attention.  Its searing guitar line, vintage organ stylings, stupidly low bass throb and above all turbocharged powerhouse drumming, then snarling vocals stating that “you’ve got a nerve to be asking a favour…” all add up to a ferociously thrilling start that just doesn’t let up, leading to 4 minutes of pure rock’n’roll abandon.  Plus, sadly the later refrain of “when I used to go out I’d know everyone I saw, now I go out alone if I go out at all…” is all too relatable in these strange times.  In any case, to this day “The Rat” remains an out and out rush of pure sonic adrenaline.

The Walkmen photo

The Walkmen were formed in 2000 and included 3 ex-members of Jonathan Fire*Eater, the 90s New York band since recognised as a huge influence on the early 2000s NY scene that birthed The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol et al, especially in Lizzy Goodman’s excellent definitive oral history “Meet Me In The Bathroom“.  “The Rat” is taken from the Walkmen’s second album “Bows + Arrows”, which was released in 2004.  Although a pretty solid effort, as are most of their subsequent records, the majesty of “The Rat” does rather overwhelm the whole album.  This dynamic was replicated when I first saw the Walkmen live (which I believe was at the Scala in 2006), with the crowd eagerly anticipating this favourite and then going suitably crazy when “The Rat” was performed right at the end of the set, as was the case again when I saw them later that year at Spain’s Benicassim festival, to another rightly rapturous reception.


Walkmen ticket

Ticket stub from the Scala, 2006


One thought on “379 to 50: #13 “The Rat” by The Walkmen

  1. Pingback: Jumping Fences To Wichita: my 100 favourite songs | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

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