The Walkmen's debut was a gem. Even though it was well versed in putting out all the usual NYC post-punk gestures it also possessed an atmosphere that vividly recalled black and white films. The follow-up begins in a familiar vein with 'What's In It For Me' built from the foundations of echo, delayed guitar chords and Hamilton Leithauser's drunken pleadings. Then there's the shock tactic: 'The Rat' is an exhilarating rock song so good it could be mentioned in the same terms as Magazine's 'Back To Nature' or Joy Division's 'Transmission'. Although this is by no means a fluke - 'Little House Of Savages' and 'My Old Man' are similarly intense - 'Bows + Arrows' is a little unbalanced. Nods to the last album are again recpatured on '138th Street' and 'Hang On, Siobhan' in which Leithauser offers a feeling of wintry intimacy and the final (title) track is a towering climax but there's a feeling that some of their unique qualities have been forfeited. Not a particularly great second effort but the new aggressive element seems well worth pursuing.