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The Constantines - Tournament of Hearts (Cover Artwork)

The Constantines

The Constantines: Tournament of HeartsTournament of Hearts (2005)
Three Gut Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: adamAdam
(others by this writer | submit your own)

On "St. You," a beautifully soulful acoustic number from the Constantines' debut, Bryan Webb sang "I'm soaked in kerosene / this is no gentleman's blues." That was a lie at the time, even more so now. The Constantines are very much gentleman's blues. They're a gentleman's rock band, a gentleman's pu.
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On "St. You," a beautifully soulful acoustic number from the Constantines' debut, Bryan Webb sang "I'm soaked in kerosene / this is no gentleman's blues." That was a lie at the time, even more so now. The Constantines are very much gentleman's blues. They're a gentleman's rock band, a gentleman's punk band; a group with so many history-conscious romantic sensibilities that they extrude class on everything they've released.

Shine a Light featured a band driven, from the opening blast of "National Hum" through the moody cacophonies of the title track and single "Nightime." However, it laid its deepest hooks in uplifting, rootsy tunes like "Young Lions," "On to You" and "Sub-Domestic." Like many of their Three Gut contemporaries, this is a group raised on the Band and Neil Young as much as they were Fugazi and the Clash. Tournament of Hearts is a child of the former, if not in sound than in its pulse (to say nothing of its unashamed Canadiana title). This is a calmer, more relaxed outing, with the band focusing on subtlety, finding ways to force their fire into an unassumingly quiet package. This leads to long buildups with a burst of energy escaping its restraints in the last half-minutes of songs. Witness this in the retooled "Hotline Operator." The track, sharing a name and organ pulse with its B-side predecessor, has been completely refocused around this model. Listen for how the propulsive rhythm section is reined in for the chorus. It creates a pensive, controlled feel that lashes back in the last 40 seconds with Webb's raw-throated shout and an ever so brief outburst of guitar and drum.

Several ideas from Shine a Light come to greater fruition here. The mid-tempo, inspirational "Young Lions" finds its sequel in the album opening anthem "Draw Us Lines." The country sensibilities of "Sub-Domestic" become a stomping chorus in "Soon Enough." Savour the sincere, feel-good moment when Webb croons "Soon enough work and love will make a man out of you," proving himself one of the most effective vocalists in Canadian rock. "Love in Fear," "Lizaveta" and "Good Nurse" are songs that exemplify the band's current songwriting approach and form the emotional core of the record. "Working Full-Time" is perhaps closest in spirit to their prior album, and as such provides a propulsive, populist rock centrepiece for the album. Guitarist Steve Lambke contributes vocals to two songs, the moody "Thieves" and the fragile closing track "Windy Road." This is the most effective his unique, wispy singing voice has ever been. He adds a ghostly, ethereal quality to the latter half of the record and holds his own alongside Webb's work.

The concept shines through that this is a rural record. Shine a Light was decidedly urban, reflecting a paranoia bred on the streets of Toronto and a pace that kept up with the city. Its artwork featured a sea of cars and buildings twisting towards the sky like tentacles. Tournament of Hearts takes its time, finding its charm in open spaces and the piece-of-mind found in nature. Its liner notes reflect this as well: rocks, wolves, polar bears. The band has a preoccupation with the imagery of helicopters this time out. Is this the bridge between their two worlds? Their escape?

The fact that we can ask these questions proves the band is doing their job: Creating albums that stand as cohesive, captivating, substantial works of unpretentious rock art in an age where that's clearly an anomaly. We're better for it.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Constantines - Shine A LightThe Constantines - Kensington HeightsFugazi - The ArgumentJapandroids - Celebration RockJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyThe Weakerthans - Left and LeavingToys That Kill - Shanked!The Weakerthans - Reunion TourAgainst Me! - White Crosses

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (October 14, 2005)

what is synthasaurus can some one please answer back and why the tappin of the balls

Anonymous (October 14, 2005)

Is this album named after the uber-popular curling tournament?
Hurry Hard!

-Not-to-Regret

LevitateMe (October 13, 2005)

This album is just above average, nothing more.

Anonymous (October 13, 2005)

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile &friendID=31029825&Mytoken=BBBEE792-EFAD-5ACF-FE6F115538F9336C267 56668

Anonymous (October 12, 2005)

This Score is for The Hold Steady.

Anonymous (October 12, 2005)

"is this the same Constantine who was on American Idol last season?"

hahahah imagine that? the score is for the joy it brings me thinking about the american idols tour bus wrecking into the grand canyon.
-TOBB

lol_omg_wtf_nambla (October 12, 2005)

Adam, your love for this band is what got me listening to 'em in the first place. Nicely done review, I shall pick this up at the show next week.

hungryjoe (October 12, 2005)

Did anyone else here Neil Young's "White Line" in "Soon Enough"? I couldn't listen to it without expecting Neil's opening guitar riff.

Excellent album overall...could have done without "Windy Road" though...it just doesn't measure up to "St. You".

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

Ewww. Score is for this band being the SWEATIEST live band that has ever existed.

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

chinatown. one of the reviews is dedicated to you

LevitateMe (October 11, 2005)

No it's the one from the movie

fallingupwards84 (October 11, 2005)

is this the same Constantine who was on American Idol last season?

GreenVandal (October 11, 2005)

Deerhoof is awesome. This is better though.

Inspection12e (October 11, 2005)

I can't stand her voice.

LevitateMe (October 11, 2005)

The new album is different

Inspection12e (October 11, 2005)

No Deerhoof sucks.

LevitateMe (October 11, 2005)

This isn't the album of the year, Deerhoof's The Runners Four is.

Inspection12e (October 11, 2005)

Chinatown is mysterious. I'm getting my copy of this tomorrow morning.

The artwork is pretty terrible but I'm sure the music will be great.

ElVaquero (October 11, 2005)

I found this to be a bit better than the Pitchfork review, a little more approachable. But they did find a way to use "penultimate" giving them the writing prize.

I'll be looking to check this out, I liked Shine A Light fairly well.

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

Chinatown- Weren't you in New Brunswick? Still there?

Nope. I moved to Lennoxville, Quebec in the summer of '03. I visited New Brunswick a few months ago, though.

-Chinatown

adam (October 11, 2005)

Chinatown: Adam, which album do you prefer: Twin Cinema or Tournament?

Right now I'm leaning towards Twin Cinema as the better of the two.

-adam

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

Chinatown- Weren't you in New Brunswick? Still there?

Russe11 (October 11, 2005)

chinatown!

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

University.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

chinatown, where ya been?

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

Album of the year, hands down. This one's way, way better than Shine A Light, which had quite a few boring tracks in the middle.

Adam, which album do you prefer: Twin Cinema or Tournament?

-Chinatown

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

"so adam, is this a good _____ start with? i have no other _______________, just some random _____

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

fill in the blanks"

fill in the blanks for what?

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

so adam, is this a good _____ start with? i have no other _______________, just some random _____

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

fill in the blanks

Crookedsuperhero (October 11, 2005)

Good review, but really not too great a band.

stevejonestherealbones (October 11, 2005)

adam, you silly xanga bitch

"add cock"

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

LevitateMe (October 11, 2005)

I know that Adam is in love with this band, is this album actually that good?

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

Superdude I dont know where you get your tricks, but dont go on hiatus again.

-sirens

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

Love in Fear is my favorite song off the album. The whole thing is great though.

superdude (October 11, 2005)

This review was pretty good, but hereā??s what I would do to make it better:

1. Would I be likely to wear a zip-up hoodie while listening to this, or would I sport a sweater-vest?

2. Keep in mind that I donā??t own any sweater-vests. I can get one though.

3. Donā??t read #2.

4. Actually, if you read #3 you probably would have already read #2. Hereā??s my edit.

This review was pretty good, but hereā??s what I would do to make it better:

1. Would I be likely to wear a zip-up hoodie while listening to this, or would I sport a sweater-vest?

2. Donā??t read #3.

3. Keep in mind that I donā??t own any sweater-vests. I can get one though.

AlmostPunkEnough (October 11, 2005)

guess which website i'm never visiting.

ummm, ummm, SYNTHASAURUS.com?????????!?!?!

am i right? i hope synthasaurus guy ball-taps himself really hard tomorrow.

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

guess which website i'm never visiting.

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

love this fucking band

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

I just bought this on the weekend. It has been shortlisted to my top5 of 2005. I think I like it more than Shine A Light... I really do.

prankish (October 11, 2005)

Constantines fucking rock it live. Came mighty close to stealing a show from the Weakerthans in 2003.

adam (October 11, 2005)

Jones, I'd start with Shine A Light personally. This record's quite a bit more laid back, so that one has the dynamics to make a more interesting start.

-adam

stevejonestherealbones (October 11, 2005)

so adam, is this a good album to start with? i have no other constantine releases, just some random mp3s

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

GreenVandal (October 11, 2005)

I need this. I need this so bad.

the_other_scott (October 11, 2005)

can't wait to check this out

can't wait to see these canadian gentlemen with the hold steady

inagreendase (October 11, 2005)

I just can't get into this. I tried so, so hard, and even with this definite Modest Mouse vibe floating about it, I just couldn't. And yet, I'd probably still recommend it to others.

Anonymous (October 11, 2005)

Awsome review. And I love the cover for some reason. And I also love polar bears, so that means I really should check this out.

-Will

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