The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Weakerthans

Reunion Tour (2007)


Despite the sheer reverence shown for the Winnipeg act, the Weakerthans are really a delightfully simple band. Particularly in Canada the indie scene's treated them with the acclaim afforded to bands like Broken Social Scene and the Arcade Fire: the luminaries. While I'd argue that John K. Samson and company certainly deserve it, they're clearly of a different breed. When I listen to those bands I'm well aware that I'm listening to art, intentional art, and the bands know it. The Weakerthans? They're a rock band. They play rock songs. However literate their songwriter, however many roots tangents they travel, that's always been the case. Reunion Tour rides a wave of anticipation but it delivers exactly what makes this four-piece so endearing: touching, exciting, and accessible rock music.

I live in Reunion Tour's world. It's the band's most identifiably Canadian record, but it's hardly nationalistic. It's the setting. It fleshes out Samson's characters. It's remarkable how a quick reference to Ontario's goods and services tax is far more effective and genuine than the chest-thumping civic pride we hear from so many street punks. I take pleasure in the fact that somewhere in the southern U.S. there's a listener simply baffled by the word "bonspiel." The Canadian winter's a reoccurring theme, a bit of pathetic fallacy to play against the record's imperfect, flawed characters. Samson's songs are cautionary, with his subjects suffering through the inertia of their lives, whether it's retreating to the bar at the curling club or neglecting their too-wise cat. Winter suits them.

That feline survives 2003's Reconstruction Site, which also donates its well-orchestrated, lush instrumental approach to Reunion Tour. The poetic "Elegy for Gump Worsley" is a bit of a throwback to Left and Leaving, a hockey-minded sonic successor to "Without Mythologies." Midtempo rockers like "Sun in an Empty Room" and "Night Windows" make up the meat of Reunion Tour, which is perhaps only lacking a few songs with the pop-punk energy of "Our Retired Explorer" or "Aside."

However Reunion Tour won't share in the acclaim of the past two records, at least not at first. Like Reconstruction Site, it's going to be met with disappointment, at least initially. That's how this band works though: They don't write the songs that blow your mind when you first hear them -- they write the songs that become the pillars of your regular listening library for years to come. Is this the, er, weaker Weakerthans full-length? It's certainly the most economic and succinct.

Let's talk again in around a few months; I'm willing to bet these songs will have firmly rooted themselves in your life by then.