The Weakerthans
Left and Leaving


5.0
classic

Review

by tom79 USER (76 Reviews)
March 11th, 2007 | 59 replies | 15,698 views


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist


6 of 6 thought this review was well written

It usually sucks when someone leaves the band; especially when it’s a longtime member. But like in most situations, you can take a positive outlook on things. This was the case with Canadian punk trio Propagandhi in 1996 after releasing their second album ‘Less Talk, More Rock’. Original bassist John K. Samson left the group to pursue different ideas and eventually form The Weakerthans the following year. With Samson leaving Propagandhi, two good things came out of this, again if you focus on the positive aspects as oppose to the negative. Propagandhi would take a heavier route and go on to make arguably their finest record in ‘Today’s Empires Tomorrow’s Ashes’, and The Weakerthans would become one of Canada’s favorite alternative bands making some essential indie albums.

Samson showed with Propagandhi (or anyone who has heard his early demos) he had talent. His higher pitched voice contrasted and the songs that he did write definitely stood out. With The Weakerthans Samson took complete control to have more freedom to write and show even more of his fantastic writing abilities and ideas. Though he played bass before, Samson plays guitar of all kinds here and completing the Weakerthans lineup is Stephen Carroll on guitar, John Sutton on bass and piano and drummer Jason Tait. Releasing their debut record, ‘Fallow’, in 1997 on Propagandhi’s G-7 Welcoming Committee label; it instantly showed great potential of an up and coming band. Three years later came the bands sophomore album, the featured ‘Left and Leaving’ and the band seemed to have reached their peak. With Samson’s signature voice, unique and witty lyrics, a lighter sound yet with a still punk edge with signs of folk, pop and alt rock; it was perhaps Samson’s, and indeed the rest of the bands best work to date.

The majority of ‘Left and Leaving’ relies on John’s introspective, personal and poetically written lyrics; motstly written in first person, overlapping the often times discrete, leisurely backing instrumentals. And the album could not rely on a greater strength. It’s the lyrics that will grip you in every song, whether they are about a quirky event of a day in the life, romances, loneliness or lessons of the world around him it will be sure to capture your attention. A self analysis in Aside shows just a look at one of his styles, with lines such as “Measure me in metered lines and one decisive stare, the time it takes to get from here to there; my ribs that show through t-shirts and these shoes I got for free, I'm unconsoled, I'm lonely I am so much better than I used to be”. Other lyrics are laced with clever, sometimes obscured metaphors and delicate subjects of John’s.

‘Left and Leaving’ is an album full of substance; one that will most likely grow on you and may require some time to fully absorb. But there will be those songs that will hit you right off the bat. Aside is a loud, catchy rocker that could maybe pass for an old Samson Propagandhi song ala Anchorless with its lively riff and memorable chorus. Watermark is follows in the same vein as Aside albeit a slightly darker manner but catchy all the same. On the opposite side of the spectrum, tracks like the gloomy, pondering title track and bare folk of My Favorite Chords depend strictly on simplicity, lyrical messages and vocals, and succeed at that; both standout tracks. Slips and Tangles, which was first written in ’93 on a demo, is a relaxing, soothing closer that captures the mood of the album and makes room for some piano and lets Tait’s hi-hats take some of the spotlight off the vocals. Another quality song, Elegy for Elsabet is a sleepy low-fi, distortion filled tune that fits comfortably in the middle of the record and rather long at 6:20.

The albums flow is excellent, and although instrumentally, and even vocally the songs get samey and formulaic, it does not detract from the overall quality. The majority of the album is written in 4/4 (“I wait in 4/4 time” John sings on the title track) time with but a few exceptions are added, like History to the Defeated (written in 3/4). Without Mythologies certainly stands out with its strange, echoing drum intro and John’s intensely sung lyrics. Exiles Among You is another oddity in the bunch that stands out from the regularly calmer tracks due to the blaring guitar intro and despite the tame verses, but ends on a roaring note showing they can play with the amps turned up too.

The Weakerthan’s ‘Left and Leaving’ has the potential to become a favorite album quick, or at the least be appreciated on one level or another. The lyrics, its obvious focal point, are hard for anyone to disprove of. With sincere and passionate vocals over bare instrumentals, catchy pop punk-fueled rhythms, intellectual, reflective lyrics, it’s purely a well crafted album. ‘Left and Leaving’ will, and already has begun to, be a remembered album within and hopefully beyond its genre and country.

Recommended Tracks:
Left and Leaving
Aside
This Is A Fire Door Never Leave Open
Watermark
Elegy for Elsabet
Slips and Tangles



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Comments:Add a Comment 
slep
March 11th 2007



1604 Comments


Excellent review. Aside is a great song.

tom79
March 12th 2007



3363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks Slep

Digging: Braid - No Coast

Two-Headed Boy
March 14th 2007



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Excellent work, man. This was a blast to read.

I really like Construction site, so I'll get this eventually.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
May 13th 2007



4926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ummm okay.

Tom you got me to listen to this album again, thanks

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

skateMASTERbater2
December 16th 2007



39 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is one of my favorite albums ever, great reviewThis Message Edited On 12.16.07

jebus FX
February 29th 2008



301 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sweet album, love to listen to it before going to sleep

by the way can anybody send me Fallow pleaseeee?

that's the only album i haven't heard by the weakerthans

aliens_exist41@hotmail.com

thanks

Kiran
Emeritus
August 22nd 2008



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Steadily falling in love with this album.

MrKite
October 5th 2008



5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fucking god this is amazing.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2008



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

album is the shit

Kiran
Emeritus
December 1st 2008



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Reminds me I gotta start listening to this again. Had so much 08 stuff to catch up on, this sort of got left behind.

gaslightanthem
January 12th 2009



5209 Comments


oh em gee this is good stuff

natey
May 13th 2009



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fucking god this is amazing.

thebbqshrimp
August 3rd 2009



1207 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of my favorite albums ever. Absolutely brilliant.

Kiran
Emeritus
August 3rd 2009



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the weakerthans in general are one of my favourite bands

every album is so solid

natey
October 11th 2009



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it doesn't get much better than this

charlesfishowitz
October 11th 2009



1794 Comments


rules

CelestialDust
February 18th 2010



3155 Comments


i shall give this a listen tonight

natey
March 1st 2010



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

best thing to come out of Canada.

EVedder27
March 22nd 2010



6088 Comments


sooo good

ConsiderPhlebas
June 17th 2010



6157 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Such an amazing album. More people need to hear this.



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