Knifed & Spooned

Knifed & Spooned is a publication dedicated to the review of record reviews published on Pitchfork. Pitchfork reviews are each disseminated before being assigned a numerical value on an arbitrary scale, which we prefer not to divulge. Contributions are made by journalists, editors, established artists and readers like you. This site does not review records and should be viewed only as meta-commentary on a singular phenomenon of popular culture.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Review of Jason Crock’s Review of the Walkmen’s needless remake 7.9

In 1998, Gus Van Sant directed a shot for shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. Eight years later, no one but Van Sant is certain why. Was it an exercise? Was it vanity? What drives established artists to attempt reinventing iconic work? Enter the Walkmen, with a white-knuckle grip on their LP of Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats. Like any of us, Jason Crock’s review can only ask why.

Crock writes:

It'd be more forgivable if this record were bringing Nilsson's material to a new or wider audience, but despite the Walkmen playing illustrious venues like the Bait Shop, I'd guess the opposite is happening. The Walkmen's Pussy Cats is for the tiny sliver of the Venn diagram where fans of the original LP and long-established Walkmen fans intersect (and where this writer admittedly rests).

Crock has the answer, but not before he gives us an obligatory brief history of Nilsson’s original. Perhaps there’s nothing to discuss about this record except the degree to which it successfully imitates and the magnitude to which it fails to innovate. Crock’s assumption that this record is the product of an identity crisis sounds on the nose.

If the Walkmen came into making this record creatively lost, they finish in the same state. Crock’s review implies very little deviation or exploration of the material. By adhering to nothing more than ground already tread by Nilsson’s original, there doesn’t appear to be any epiphany from the process of remaking Pussy Cats that they wouldn’t have gained from just listening to it.

--Dan

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