The Weakerthans are a Canadian four-piece Indie Rock band with elements of both Punk and Folk also present in their sound. The band actually formed in 1997, and over the past ten years have come out with three albums including this latest effort 'Reunion Tour'. Their 2003 release 'Reconstruction Site' is perhaps their best album to date, however none of the three could by any means be considered to be at all bad. Signed to Epitaph Records, it is no surprise that The Weakerthans have had the success that they have done, and they fully deserve the fan base that they have built up for themselves over the years. Although by no means massive, the bands intelligent and introspective lyrics have proven to be more than enough to win over countless crowds of people throughout their ten year history.
'Reunion Tour' gets off to a start with an interesting little number in the form of 'Civil Twilight'. The track opens the album well and has you eagerly wishing to listen on and see what the band has to provide you with in this latest album. There is something strangely hypnotic about this one, and the more times I have listened to it the more I have begun to appreciate and enjoy listening to it. It is a track that I have liked ever since the first listen, but as time has gone by have found myself listening back to 'Civil Twilight' increasingly more so; a definite grower of a track. This could actually be said about the album as a whole, as even if you don't 'get' it the first time you listen, the chances are that by the third or forth time of listening the album will have you well and truly hooked. From 'Civil Twilight', the band progress on well and move into the fantastic track 'Hymn of the Medical Oddity', the track I would consider to be the best of the album. Right from the opening guitar riff this one had me hooked, and as the vocals begin and drums start beating the track grows and flourishes into something really rather special. It is perhaps one of the best Indie tracks I have heard all year actually; one I would rank amongst other favourite tracks of mine of the sort such as Death Cab For Cutie's 'Sound Of Settling', and Spoon's 'The Way We Get By'.
As the album progresses, The Weakerthans more than prove their worth and come forth with a number of decent offerings that provide some great listening enjoyment such as the skilfully executed 'Tournament Of Hearts', and the ever exciting 'Night Windows'. Both tracks are perfectly structured pop tracks oozing with appeal, laden with huge guitar hooks and the most meticulous of choruses. Unfortunately however, the vast majority of this album is distinctly lacking in stand out tracks and for the most part meanders along and never really leaves much of a lasting impression. Most of the eleven tracks are really quite forgettable, and although 'Reunion Tour' can provide you with the perfect background sound to relax and de stress yourself, the majority of the tracks are likely merely to wash over you. Having said this, the band do provide more than enough entertainment on this record to keep your full attention throughout the duration of the listen and is therefore by no means a failure. It may be true that it is lacking in excitement, but it's certainly not a bad album and will most likely put a smile on the face of the majority of its listeners at one stage or another.
A bad thing about The Weakerthans I have always found is that after a while, the singers voice really begins to grate on me. I do not find this if I listen to tracks singularly, however when I listen to the bands albums as a whole, the voice of front man John Samson can get thoroughly irritating. I'm not too sure what it is about the man's vocals, but the only way I can think to put it is that the sound of his voice is at times reminiscent of Tom Green in 'Road Trip' during his performance of the 'Tiny Salmon' song. If you're not sure what I mean there then I suggest perhaps that you look it up on YouTube or somewhere like that, then you'll get a general idea of where I'm coming from. The vocals can sound strained, and at times even comical. The lyrics are always intelligently written, however the way that they are pulled off vocally is not always so strong.
Although this latest album from The Weakerthans breaks no new ground, it is still not a bad album. The harsh reality of it all however is that it's just not as good as their previous offerings. Whilst the music the band are creating is still tender and heartfelt, it lacks that immediacy it possessed in previous albums. Newcomers to the band will surely be impressed with what they find here, however long term fans are likely to be left disappointed. Unfortunately for the band, in this album The Weakerthans can at times comes across as the perfect band for the OC soundtrack; uninspired Indie stalwarts. The tracks often sound 'nice', however often definitely border on bland. This album is certainly not their best, however I still feel that it is still worth a listen. If you've not listened to The Weakerthans before then the chances are that you'll perhaps be quite impressed with what you find here as in truth it is a pretty decent Indie album, but when you've been spoilt by hearing their first two albums; 'Reunion Tour' just doesn't compare.
Release Date: 29th October 2007
Originally posted by me on my website Alt-UK.com
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Civil Twilight
2 Hymn of the Medical Oddity
3 Relative Surplus Value
4 Tournament of Hearts
5 Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure
6 Elegy for Gump Worsley
7 Sun in an Empty Room
8 Night Windows
10 Reunion Tour