The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Ah, The Weakerthans. Stronger than most bands and weaker than very few. They are the finest thing the ‘Peg has had to offer since... well, since ever. I mean, Winnie the Pooh and the Winnipeg jets are cool and all, but we’re talking about The Weakerthans here. And, let’s face it; Teemu Selanne is a Jofa-helmet-wearing doofus. The band released Reconstruction Site in 2003, and after a long hiatus (some of us thought they were done for good), they announced they were indeed still alive and would be releasing Reunion Tour in the Fall of 07. Early reports were that the new album would be the most experimental the band has ever put out; featuring “lots of ambient stuff, tape loops, and some more keyboard than before.” Though initially worried, I realized pretty much every band says their new album is their “most experimental to date”, and eager anticipation set in instead. And after an intimate week with Reunion Tour it is clear that any previous doubts that I had before were unfounded. The Weakerthans have added yet another stellar album to their long list of… three LPs. Well, when the music’s this good, who cares that they only put out an album every four years?
The Weakerthans create extremely clever and extremely likeable indie-pop-folk-rock. Reunion Tour sounds, more or less, like their previous albums with a little natural progression added. While there’s some trumpet, trombone, flute and, someone’s “golf cart, fridge, and his vacuum”; the instrumentation keeps things pretty simple with some banjo, glockenspiel, and brushed drums thrown in for good measure. In addition to the simple, yet effective music, John K. Samson’s lyrics are phenomenal. Some of the metaphors and similes he thinks of are unheard of. From “Relative Surplus Value”, for example; “I’m down 12 points and they’re selling. The graphs in the boardroom show by the time the market opens in Tokyo, I’ll be worthless.” Or how about, “The full moon makes our faces shine like over-ironed polyester” or “I got more faults than the state of California” from the songs, “Night Windows” and “Utilities”, respectively.
There’s also something to be said about the subject matter of the album. When was the last time you heard a song about curling? Or a song sung from the perspective of a runaway cat to his owner (“I can’t remember the sound that you found for me”)? Even the song structures themselves are refreshing. When the choruses roll around for a second time, they don’t have the same lyrics as the first time. And while there are some untraditional structures on Reunion Tour, there’s no shortage of hooks; aptly displayed in “Tournament of Hearts”, “Sun in an Empty Room”, and “Night Windows.”
With Reunion Tour, The Weakerthans have further solidified their spot atop the deceptively-simple-Manatobian-indie-pop-folk-rock-music ladder (it exists; look it up). The music is fun, the lyrics are insightful, and the songs are creative. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take four years for the next album.
Great album, one of the best of the year. Enjoyable music and some of the best lyrics in a long time. I loved this album, it was getting pretty heavy rotation before my Radiohead binge (and I'm sure I'll turn back to it after In Rainbows).