Monday, October 1, 2007

Reunion Tour

I’m originally from Winnipeg, so, of course, I have an affinity with The Weakerthans, who have never hidden the fact they call the Manitoban capital home. Lead singer and songwriter John K. Samson sprinkles his songs with references that only us ’Peggers could understand: Confusion Corner, St. Vital, getting a ride from the airport. And just like going home, The Weakerthans’ music can feel both cozy and a little too safe.
     Musically, they’re not the most ambitious bunch. Reunion Tour follows The Weakerthans’ usual course of touching slow songs interspersed with jumpy rock-out numbers. That said, they’ve perfected their act. “Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure” steadily builds to a dramatic finish, easily the album’s best moment (if you can get over the fact the song is told from the perspective of a cat). And “Tournament of Hearts” is the world’s best rock song about curling (with its inventive, double-meaning chorus “Right off, no never never ever ever”).
     But it’s Samson’s insightful lyrics and his delight in the well-chosen word that have always set The Weakerthans apart. Whether he’s describing a person’s glow as shining like “over-ironed polyester” (on the lovely “Night Windows”), or picking “parallelogram” to depict the light on “Sun in an Empty Room” (the album’s top-notch first single, which can be heard on JeffMix2007.09.17), Samson is adding to his reputation as one of our sharpest lyricists. Will The Weakerthans ever attain mainstream success? Probably not, because then they’ll never be able to go home again. B+
The Weakerthans: Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure (mp3)
The Weakerthans: Night Windows (mp3)

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