THE WEAKERTHANS - REUNION TOUR
After a four years album release hiatus, the Weakerthans are back
with more of their splatter-crunch-pop-guitar driven creations to
keep the waiters satisified with their newest offering Reunion Tour.
Being an indie listener, scoundrel and semi music snob, I’ve always
tried to find bands and sounds that identify the dynamic of the
confused, the bereft and the penultimate confusion of this youthful
Canadian independent music generation. After a first listening to
the Weakerthans first major release (following their fist self-release
of Fallow), Left And Leaving in 2000, I was hooked into the
introspective appeal of John K. Samson’s writing style.
Everything from the oddly detailed, stream of consciousness
lyrics of "Everything Must Go" to the chunky, distorted guitar
picking on "Aside", to the hypnotic glow and soothing tones of
"My Favourite Chords" told me that the Weakerthans were
going to be a force to be reckoned with and they were going
to be making music the way they wanted to for quite some time.
Today, that notion proves to be true as 2007 marks their fifth
major and fourth full-length album release. In Reunion Tour,
we find the band hammering away at similar themes (that
usually feature their not-so-fond native city of Winnipeg and
its average-joe habitants), but in the framing of a different
structure. Boasting their most ambient sound to date, guitarist
Stephen Carroll told Uptown magazine this album features
"lots of ambient stuff, tape loops, and some more keyboard
than before". The experimentation bodes heavy from the
opening, swirling guitarish-keyboard loop of the first track
and single from the album, "Civil Twilight".
The Weakerthans, though, are not only about a certain guitar
sound or eclectic instrumentation (although they are known
for transforming odd household items into instruments later
recorded on to songs) as Samson’s ever-intelligent lyricism
shows an infinitesimal grasp of the English language. Samson
has been known to create characters who appear and
re-appear in and out his songs like faces in a recurring dream.
This can be seen in the track "Plea from a Cat Named
Virtue" on the 2003 album Reconstruction Site that relays
the mind ramblings of a shut-in housecat who seeks to find
ways to help her depressed human master. And wouldn’t
you know it, the curious cat actually reappears, in true
Samson style, in the Reunion Tour song
"Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure".
Though the album has been dubbed thus far by many zines as
forgettable or more of the same, I think it would be unwise to
label it as such without dissecting the raw simplicity and
staying power of a band like the Weakerthans. Most indie
musicians and acts of today have a hard enough time getting
a gig on a Monday night. Amazingly enough though, after not
releasing anything for four years, lyricist Samson somehow
keeps the fan base of the Weakerthans satisfied. His songs
always poke at a brooding darkness of the human condition
but always with the faintest hint of hope, and his band does
an incredible job of crafting hooks and bridges around his
writings. Yes, the themes are similar and sometimes you
think you’ve heard the songs on a previous album. But
ultimately, the listeners and true fans of acts like the
Weakerthans are willing to wait because they know the
substance of the creation will be that much greater.