The Weakerthans – Fallow

Of all the CDs I’ve listened to, this one definitely counts as one of them. And it’s a good thing, two, because The Limperdicks are one of the most semenal Canadian bands around! And how can you dislike a band with such a cleverly self-deprecating name?

But really, kids, in my mind these guys will always be a much cooler, less accessible version of that seminal Canadian band The Tragically Hip, but with punk and folk and country replacing blues as major influences. See, already more interesting, right? They both have that “bar band” sound, at least by virtue of being mid-tempo and standard in makeup and instrumentation (straight-up vocals guitar drum and bass, all tuned to maximize listenability). They make a lot of Canadian references too, but with these guys, nearly all of it comes back to hating their home city, Winnipeg, which is fucking adorable.

The lead singer came from an actual punk band, Propagandhi, but he obvs took like thirty hits of erudition and other gay shit, because this album is far more punk in spirit than in music. In fact, musically The Weaks aren’t actually all that interesting – there’s three or four different songs  – the chugga-chugga-chugga midtempo one, the hookless punky one, the folky acoustic pickin’ one and the countryish sad slide guitary one, but the lyrics, oh, doctor! The lyrics are the show here. The punk spirit is alive, in that all the glory goes to sad people regretting their lives and fighting the power (“Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist” is the clearest example but it’s all over the record). But they’re doing so in a rather resigned, late 20s-at-least sort of way that passes the point of where staying young at heart gets pathetic into the part where staying young at heart becomes admirable. And the cadence! Cadence more or less drives this whole album – usually in iambic pentameter, every song here relies primarily on euphonic wordifying to drive the messages (breakups are sad, sprawl is bad fighting government is good but sad, etc) into your brainnodes. But fuck it, I fucking love those message. Sprawl really IS bad, working really IS depressing, and breakups really IS sad, and we shouldn’t be afraid to sing about any of that; we should embrace it as best as we can. I feel like The Weakythings share my life views, and that is what fundamentally separates them from The Hip or nearly every other band out there. They’re slightly more mature people like us – born to have existential crises as much as Bruce was born for running.

A few songs stand out positively – breakup song “None of the Above,” which sketches its breakup in a hopeless Winnipeg suburb’s coffee shop (“under sputtering fluorescence / After refills are refilled / As brand new strip mall chews on farmland / We fish for someone to blame” – GAHHHH) and matches it with a slide guitar and one of the few memorable musical moments on the album, unconventional “Leash,” which starts with “Have one of those days where you want to try heroin” and lets the guitar play a note and let it reverb through the bar, not unlike the drums in The Beatles’ “I Dig A Pony,” and “Fallow,” a word not mentioned that references leaving a field unfarmed for a year to enjoin the soil, horribly sadly about staying in Winnipeg one more year. It’s fucking wonderfully sad and resigned, despite being basically the same (fantasmic) song as “None of the Above” musically. Get a fuck of these lyrics! “Six feet off the highway / Our bare legs stung with wheat / We’ll dig a hole and bury / All we could not defeat / And say that we’ll stay for one more year” – it literally made my girlfriend cry last night. Of course, it could have been that we were talking about friends of ours breaking up and my beating her for no reason other than emotional blackmail, but shit, bitches gotta

Way better lyrically than m
usically, but it’s always a good listen, and good god “None of the Above” and “Fallow” are sad. I totally recommend engetifying this shit, even if it receives probably the first of many 7s The BetterOffThings get.

Remember I mentioned cadence? The line “I’ll say something thoughtful soon.” Not the best on the album, but I’m not listening to it right now. Roll it around in your mouth a bit. A bit beyond standard songwriter’s alliteration – it’s consonance and assonance and dissonance. Ah, that’s half the reason I love these guys.



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