Friday, October 5, 2007

reunion tour by the weakerthans

There are few examples of perfect albums. My list is comprised of Worse for the Wear by the New Amsterdams, Pink Moon by Nick Drake, possibly Veneer by Jose Gonzales (although it may not count because it is, in essence, Pink Moon), and Left and Leaving by the Weakerthans. The perfection of the Weakerthans' sophomore release makes the ensuing releases just a bit disappointing, because we're always hoping for that next awe-inspiring collection of songs. Reunion Tour, released last week on Epitaph, comes close to living up to its predecessor's promise.

Before becoming an indie-rock stalwart, singer-songwriter John K. Samson played bass for Canadian punk group Propaghandi – incidentally the best name ever – which probably explains the Weakerthans' bass- and drum-heavy songs and slightly off-key vocals, though their sound is characterized by melancholic, densely layered but still light and soaring melodies. Oh yeah, and Samson is the best lyricist of all time anywhere ever. The new album holds true to this formula, with a bit less Canuck-country sound than their last album, and an added smattering of electronic glitchiness. There's the obligatory wordplay (including the invention of the word "doppling" – v. to be exhibiting the Doppler effect; e.g. "doppling traffic"), self-deprecation (if he were to sell stock in himself on the NYSE, he'd be worthless – all together now: "Awww…"), and of course the heart-wrenching angst with a twist ("Elegy for Gump Worsley" is half song, half eulogy for a hockey player, and in "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure," not only does Mr. Samson hit a creative dry spell, but his cat gets depressed and leaves him), and, um, curling?

Then, of course, there's "Utilities", the album closer, adopted by two of the Would Be Hipsters as their theme songs. Not because of the great line, "I just wish I were a toothbrush or a solder gun". Or the recently disturbingly apropos, "Guess our wishes don't do dishes or brake repairs," but because of the chorus of "Let me be something somebody can use." Seriously, Mr. Samson? As long as you keep making records like this, you'll never have to worry about your relevance. I promise.

mp3: "Utilities" by the Weakerthans

1 comment:

Suesjoy said...

I like them!
But yeah, um, curling??
Those Canadians and their idea of a fun sport.
It's very ZEN actually.

I found the BEST vegetarian restaurant (in my organic food store) and thought of you while having lunch there!
Please come SOON!!