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The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site (2003)

November 25, 2008

So this is maybe one of my favourite albums ever by one of my favourite bands to have never toured here. It’s not perfect but there are perfect moments on here and to be honest it’s pretty close to perfect. It’s one of those albums where you just grow to love its quirks and lyrically John K. Sampson is fantastic at finding the interesting in mundane and a fresh way to talk about tired themes. “The Reason” could either be a sarcastic love song or perhaps an ode to fans. As Sampson tells us ‘I know you might roll your eyes at this but I’m so glad that you exist’ it’s pretty hard not to smile. Not to mention the alt-country guitars and perfect vocal delivery.

The title track is easily one of the best songs I have ever heard and it’s probably the lyrical highlight as Sampson weaves metaphors, nostalgia and picturesque language together to craft a thing of beauty. The rest of the band is in fine form providing country-esque guitar hooks and an understated rhythm section backs up a perfect song. The sound-scape on this track and throughout the album is dark, at times sparse, and when needed the production is warm and nostalgic. The three sonnets that structure the album are also atmospheric pieces of emotion that after repeated listening begin to take on new meanings if you listen close enough.

“Plea From a Cat Named Virtute” is a cute track that shows the band letting their punk past slip through blending fantastically with their newer softer alt-country sound. It tells the story of a cat’s owner dealing with a breakup told from the perspective of the cat. It’s inventive and it doesn’t sound trite or stupid as Sampson deals with the lonely and ultimately hopeful lyrics so well. “Over Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault In Paris, 1961)”, follows and shows The Weakerthans interest in history and literature in a heartfelt yet amusing way. Upbeat with jangly guitars it’s the poppiest thing on the album and I have listened to it many times. Hearing the narrator claiming a “penguin taught me French back in Antarctica” is funny and sweet and it’s a nice detour from other more serious songs.

“(Hospital Vespers)” is one of the aforementioned sonnets and it’s my favourite on offer. Reverb drenched and sounding like it was made far before it’s time with minimal instruments it’s an example of how lyrics can work in modern day song writing. “One Great City!” is an acoustic, slightly sarcastic, ode to the Canadian city of Winnipeg, which I believe is the band’s home town. Reconstruction Site is the best work from The Weakerthans and it’s a shame that compared to other Canadian cohorts (BSS, I mean you) they receive little international attention. So download the album and then go buy the rest if you dig it so perhaps one day they will tour here.

Reconstruction Site

Official Myspace

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Philippe permalink
    November 25, 2008 8:41 am

    Well, it ounds like an album I should get if there are songs which “tells the story of a cat’s owner dealing with a breakup told from the perspective of the cat.” Brilliant I tells ya! :P

  2. Alexandra permalink
    November 25, 2008 12:54 pm

    This is pretty fit, Nick!
    I like the artwork.

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