Before we commence, ladies and gentlemen, let us play an imagination game. Pretend you are an aspiring member of a bold, political punk band. Now, pretend, and only pretend, that you are smoking the most premium, relaxing cigar ever. Quality tobacco. Now take this relaxed feeling and start a new band.
         I believe this is the type of experience that John Samson--former bassist of Propaghandi and now singer/songwriter/guitarist of The Weakerthans--went through. I could be terribly wrong, but I think Samson went through a sort of chill catharsis. No longer was he part of a ferocious punk band, but the leader of a powerpop/indie quartet, also featuring veterans of the Canadian punk scene. For me, the band's musical manifestations are nothing short of genius. Samson's lyrics gush with wit and pedagogy and his melodies are soulful and tranquil. The band correlates harmonies together to create the perfect background mood, making sure that they do not outplay Samson's singing, yet keep their presence known and effective.
Left and Leaving (Subcity, 2000) has long been my favorite album, ever.
         My first conception of
Reconstruction Site was from the perspective of a boy who loved to lie on the couch/floor/bed and drown in The Weakerthans' previous album and felt like no other CD could ever top it. So naturally I was a little skeptical about how Reconstruction Site could carry on the spirituality of Left and Leaving.
         This album, however, does not fail to supply the same brilliance of
Left and Leaving and Fallow. I think it combines the sounds of the two albums together. Songs like the catchy, bashful love song, "The Reasons," bring back the pop punk playfulness of a classic like "Confessions of a Futon Revisionist," while pensive, peaceful songs like "Psalms for the Elks Lodge Last Call" recall the style of the title track "Left and Leaving."
         The lyrical work of this album brings a youthful rejuvenation back to Samson's melodies.
Left and Leaving showed more of Samson's despondent side--impressions of hangovers, fatigue, faliure, and all around loneliness--without being narcissistic. Before really getting into the new album, I thought Samson was and honest drained-of-all-fun type guy. Reconstruction Site, in contrast, brings out some of the juvenile optimisms also inherent in Samson. In general, all of the songs have brighter topics. "A Plea from a Cat Named Virtute," for example, is written from the perpective of Samson's pet cat, who is tired of watching him drink and be lonely. It's a really cute song, in short.
         For the most part,
Reconstruction Site possessed more energy and speed than its mellow predecessor. Some people thought Left and Leaving was a bit on the dull side, and the new CD is is quite different, with its musical climaxes and faster tempo.
For those of you who have not heard much of The Weakerthans, I'd recommend
Left and Leaving, because I still think its their best work. Reconstruction Site is nevertheless and excellent CD for all fans of this band, as well as anyone who wants to hear some honest, inspiring pop.
C.L. '04
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Epitaph Records
1) (Manifest)
<< 2) The Reasons >>
3) Reconstruction Site
4) Psalm For The Elks Club Last Call
5) Plea From A Cat Named Virtue
6) Our Retired Explorer (Dines With
Michael Foucault in Paris, 1961)
7) Time
8) (Hospital Vespers)
9) Uncorrected Proofs
10) New Name For Everything
11) One Great City!
12) Benediction
13) Prescience of Dawn
14) (Past-Due)
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