TBT: “The Rat” by the Walkman

Rediscover what Rolling Stone called "one of the greatest songs of the century"

“The Rat” by The Walkman
Bows + Arrows (2004)

The saddest part about the recent NBA All-Star Game was the possible final performance of one the most revered indie bands over the past decade. Perhaps their most recognized song was “The Rat”. It is 10 years old.

“The Rat” starts with a fire-breathing reverb-laden riff that can raise the hair on the back on your neck. Anticipation builds and is soon met with a drum intro and flurry that sets the song into high gear. In fact, it was the fast drumming pattern that initiated the song being born during a jam-session where the band was “just screwing around”. Finally, singer Hamilton Leithauser joins the party with his trademark impassioned croon/scream.

The combination is incredible.

So incredible, that it was named thirteenth best track of the decade by NME, 20th best track of the 2000s by Pitchfork who declared 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”.

Fun fact*** Ezra Koenig was interning for the band when this song was recorded.

Bonus: Watch “The Rat” performed for Pitchfork TV subtitled in Spanish for fun.