Weaker than my ASS is more like it.
Wait wait, that wasn’t it.
ReONION Tour is more like it!
And now that I have your undividend attention: I’m not feeling well, so this review will be even less interesting than most – isn’t that great?
Basically, there’s a lot more experimentation and quite a bit more production here – there’s very little of the all-conventional goings-on. That is all good, but there’s also a lot more lyrical experimentation, especially in terms of subjects of songs, and that’s a bad thing, because songs where I can picture myself as the protagonist in some form or other are my musical pornography. Or at least in the protagonist’s shoes…you know, personalized songs about hating Winnipeg good, obviously lyrical larks about medical oddities not so good. There’s a lot more talking about the exceptional people, which isn’t what I’ve turned to the Weakerthans for. So the mean is about the same, but the range is far lower. Less filler but less fantasticality. Here are a few notes about each song, because I’m boring:
“Civil Twilight” – Bread and butter mid-tempo rocker about a city bus driver. Wavering background guitar never quite clicks. A lot of alliteration, which is a bit of a drag considering their usual lyrical acumen. A line about thinking about the names of “provinces and hollywood actors.” Methinks he’d run about provinces about thirty seconds into each day!
“Hymn of the Medical Oddity” – Soothing musically, but unspectacular. song topic is rather blah – I’ll take “When I Was A Baby” thanks.
“Relative Surplus Value” – Serious-faced fast-paced, drums first rocker about a stockbroker getting canned. Sorry, but again, poor choice of topic – reminds me of Ben Folds taking himself too seriously.
“Tournament of Hearts” – That’s the best name for a sports event ever (the women’s curling championship). Another fairly normal rocker akin to track one, but with more production frills than on previous albums. Nice, but strives too hard to fit in 80000 curling references per verse.
“Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure” – The whole “song from the perspective of a cat” thing is a lot less interesting the second time around, especially with the overabundance of cat-thing references and the newfound balladry, but that climax is genuinely touching. Listen to it twice and you’ll forget about it forever. Three times and it’ll get stuck in your head forever.
“Elegy for Gump Worsley” – Dumb pretentious seven (or so) repeating acoustic guitar notes combined with ultra-serious sounding spoken word about hockey. Comes off as too self-consciously Canadian, and even though it is actually about a dead person, the no-smiling intonation of lines like “List of favourite items through by New York Rangers fans: Soup cans. Persimmon. A mop handle.” Ruins everything good in the world.
“Sun in an Empty Room” – The best moving song ever and the album’s standout.
“Night Windows” – Almost as good, any song about walking at night works for me, but it all never comes together due to the ugliness of the phrase “night windows.” Sounds unmusical, and horribly.
The last three songs – One short acoustic song about a bigfoot catcher that’s nice but unmemorable, one short marching band-ish song about a band on reunion tour (a-HA!) that’s nice but unmemorable, and one everyday instruments song about everyday objects that’s nice but unmemorable.
GREAT WRITING, HUH. Nice album, but I doubt I’ll ever have the urge to listen to anything but two, maybe three songs off of it ever again. The 7 is a low one.