11 Songs, 37 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

One of the reining purveyors of literate, indie pop, Weakerthans frontman John Samson takes the band back out for a spin, traveling through a familiar love-torn landscape full of character studies and self-examination.  Falling musically somewhere between They Might Be Giants and later, radio-friendly Replacements, The Weakerthans prove here that they’re committed to the pop direction they’ve chosen, without diminishing their output to a diluted run-off. There’s plenty of depth (“Civil Twilight,” “Sun in an Empty Room,” “Night Windows”), obtuse beauty (“Virtue the Cat Explains her Departure,” “Bigfoot”) and offbeat humor (“Elegy for Gump Worsley”) to satisfy all appetites.  “Relative Surplus Value” has some real teeth, with gnawing guitars and snapping drums, and “Bigfoot!” and “Utilities” surprise with delicate construction and simplicity. Samson’s literary bent leaves images embedded in the listener’s mind; how can a phrase like “we don’t live here anymore” feel so loaded? And haven’t we all felt, at times, like “the heart is a badly built bridge,” but never found the words? Musicians who have spent any time on tour will appreciate the sentiments of the title track, with Samson recalling “the shiny food we found with gasoline” and other delights of the road, carried along on a military-march drum beat and an airy, Theremin-like wave of sound.  An album full of cinematic and poetic possibility, Reunion Tour invites the listener to hitch a ride and come along, pot holes and all.

EDITORS’ NOTES

One of the reining purveyors of literate, indie pop, Weakerthans frontman John Samson takes the band back out for a spin, traveling through a familiar love-torn landscape full of character studies and self-examination.  Falling musically somewhere between They Might Be Giants and later, radio-friendly Replacements, The Weakerthans prove here that they’re committed to the pop direction they’ve chosen, without diminishing their output to a diluted run-off. There’s plenty of depth (“Civil Twilight,” “Sun in an Empty Room,” “Night Windows”), obtuse beauty (“Virtue the Cat Explains her Departure,” “Bigfoot”) and offbeat humor (“Elegy for Gump Worsley”) to satisfy all appetites.  “Relative Surplus Value” has some real teeth, with gnawing guitars and snapping drums, and “Bigfoot!” and “Utilities” surprise with delicate construction and simplicity. Samson’s literary bent leaves images embedded in the listener’s mind; how can a phrase like “we don’t live here anymore” feel so loaded? And haven’t we all felt, at times, like “the heart is a badly built bridge,” but never found the words? Musicians who have spent any time on tour will appreciate the sentiments of the title track, with Samson recalling “the shiny food we found with gasoline” and other delights of the road, carried along on a military-march drum beat and an airy, Theremin-like wave of sound.  An album full of cinematic and poetic possibility, Reunion Tour invites the listener to hitch a ride and come along, pot holes and all.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
29 Ratings

29 Ratings

CBrick ,

Another ode to a beautiful and dismal humanity, or lack thereof.

I love this album. I love everything the Weakerthans have ever done. It’s worthwhile to buy every album of theirs just to support an unspeakably precious and authentic kind of artistry and musicianship that hardly seems to exist anymore. As with most Weakerthans albums, some of the best songs on this one are simply orchestrated and produced (Bigfoot!), which, I’ve noticed, tends to lose the interest of those not willing to take a closer listen. However, the astounding lyrics of John K. Samson, unquestionably one of the great poets of our time, fit so sweetly into the gratifying chord progressions and pleasing guitar riffs that it becomes evident that many of these songs would be lost if the instrumentation or production was overcomplicated.

Reunion Tour very much reminds me of Left and Leaving, my favorite Weakerthans album: the sensitive song writing and delivery (Night Windows); the academic but unpretentious use of metaphor and language (Hymn of the Medical Oddity); the silly-sweet way Samson has of simultaneously praising and lamenting the poignantly forgettable markers of everyday life (Virtute the Cat Explains her Departure)--I use certain songs as examples, but these elements are present throughout the album. I so appreciate his questioning but not entirely pessimistic view of the world. I can so relate to his struggle to piece together and examine the little memories and moments that will eventually make up the whole of one human existence. He is almost jarringly all-knowing, and yet he never seems to be preaching to his audience; on the contrary, it’s as if he is inviting his listeners on a journey with him, as if he is promising them that he is on their page.

If it seems that I praise Samson excessively, please, see the Weakerthans live. I have never witnessed a truer or more endearing stage presence than Samson’s; I challenge you to leave a Weakerthans show not feeling like you just witnessed something utterly otherworldly. As far as this album specifically is concerned, treat it like you should treat all other Weakerthans albums. Buy it, give it several very thorough listens, and revel in its gloriously thoughtful treatment of all things divinely and ridiculously human.

Osoling ,

It's late but I am still up listening...

I just got the album tonight and I am on my third listen through it. The song writing, which has always been The Weakerthans' strong point, is still magnificent. The lyrics still have the same raw emotion. It you liked the other albums, you will like this.

Left and Leaving has always been my favorite Weakerthans album. This album seems to go back to the simplicity of that album. There are some studio tricks and whatnot, but overall it has the honesty of the earlier albums. Oh. And the cat reappears.

It's good to have a new album from these guys. They're one of my favorite bands. It's been far too long. This is $10 well spent.

theheroappears ,

excellent

different from previous weakerthans efforts, and overall perhaps not quite as good as "reconstruction site," but an excellent album nonetheless. with the exception of elegy from gump worsley (which is great when heard in the right mood, but otherwise has limited appeal), every track is solid. personal favorites are "civil twilight," "virtute the cat explains her departure," "sun in an empty room" and "reunion tour". samson's lyrics are, as always, poetic, insightful, and without pretension, and the music is both accessible and eclectic. at different times understated, driving, upbeat and melancholy, this album only gets better with each listen.

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