The Rat (song)
|Single by The Walkmen|
|from the album Bows + Arrows|
|Released||April 19, 2004|
|Genre||Post-punk revival, indie rock|
|The Walkmen singles chronology|
"The Rat" is a song by The Walkmen, released as the first single from their second album, Bows + Arrows in 2004. It has received high acclaim from critics, featuring in many publications' best-of-the-decade lists.
Composition and recording
Singer Hamilton Leithauser said the song originated in a jam session when the band were "just screwin' around." The band's drummer Matt Barrick instigated the track by playing a fast drum pattern. The band then quickly built this foundation into the full track, Leithauser said "we threw some chords on it, I wrote the words in five minutes." The song had been included in the band's live sets as early as February 2002, with slightly different lyrics than the recorded version.
The band's usual method was to self-produce their material. However, after unsuccessful attempts to record the layered electric organ and guitar, they decided to record the track with a professional record producer at the advice of their label. This was later viewed as an unsatisfactory move by bassist Walter Martin who said "It doesn't sound right at all. I think the production for the rest of the album makes the music sound big and live. But it just sounds dense and solid."
The video features a live performance shot in black and white making use of chiaroscuro.
The track has received highly positive critical acclaim, featuring in many end-of-decade lists. It was named thirteenth best track of the decade by NME and 20th best track of the 2000s by Pitchfork Media who named it "a St. Valentine's Day Massacre of relentless drums, bass, and guitar." Rolling Stone called it "one of the greatest songs of the century". Modern Drummer magazine praised Barrick's performance as "a jaw-dropping exercise in precision and velocity". In October 2011, NME placed it at number 31 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".
Stylus Magazine took a different slant saying that the song's 'one-hit wonder' success "was the worst thing to ever happen to The Walkmen. It brought the iPod-lazy—singles, MP3s, mix and matchers—to their shows and records."
CD & 7"
- "The Rat"