Review Summary: Reunion tours are never quite good enough.
The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
Does anybody else remember those Hopelessly Devoted to Your Sampler CDs that Hopeless/SubCity sold for $1. When I was an impressionable youth at the Warped Tour in 2002, I picked up the first four volumes in the series. Being a fan of Thrice, I figured anything else put out by the same label would be great. I was wrong (e.g. Scared of Chakra). I even remember when Avenged Sevenfold was decent ("Second Heartbeat" is a fun track, admit it). Looking past the downsides of those album though, the gems were definitely the tracks I discovered by The Weakerthans. "Aside," "Watermark," "Past Due," and even "Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist" are all great songs and led me to the wonderful debut LP Left and Leaving, an album that was brimming with catchy, lovable songs. Reconstruction Site was slightly weaker, but was in no way bad. There were some great songs and I still really appreciated The Weakerthans' style and John Samson's uniquely earnest voice.
But now we push towards Reunion Tour who's very title seems to sum up the crux of this CD; good, but not as great as the former Weakerthans that produced two great LPs. Diehard fans love to watch Mick Jagger shake his fossilized body on stage but that doesn't mean The Stones are as good as they used to be. However, just resorting to that commentary neglects the successful moments of this album."Hymn for the Medical Oddity," "Tournament of Hearts," "Sun in an Empty Room," and "Night Windows" are all meticulously constructed pop songs. Each verse, chorus, bridge, hook, and lyrical quip seems perfectly geared towards generating a positive reaction in the listener. Each song is really a collection of smiles, little pats-on-the-back for The Weakerthans and their listeners. Moments like "All the championship banners going yellow on the wall. / And my name when it gets closer to last call." from "Tournament of Hearts" are reassuring and poignant.
However, there are also fat pitfalls on the album. Songs like "Virtue The Cat Explains Her Departure," "Elegy for Gump Worsley" and "Big Foot!" leave me scratching my head. They have pretty moments but don't hang together as songs particularly well. "Relative Surplus Value" has a weird upbeat shoegaze/pop rock feel, unbefitting of Samson's voice. The main problem with the album though is that the whole thing is too flat and monotone. While previous albums had a mix of slow folk and energetic punk songs, Reunion Tour is sort of like the bell-curve version of that. The punk tunes are no longer as energetic and the folk tunes are no longer as wistful and touching. The best songs here are their straight pop songs, which is a conundrum within itself, considering all of the best previous material wasn't this vanilla inbetween of "pop." All in all, Reunion Tour is a fun release from a band that can't really write bad songs. It's just too bad that they seem to have stopped writing genius songs. The Weakerthans are still writing pretty, tender music, but they seem to have lost their immediacy and potency.
And yeah, you probably won't get Elegy for Gump Worsley because maybe you don't like hockey or know who the Gump was. The lyrics in that song are actually a great tribute to him. And Bigfoot! is one of their best songs yet in my opinion.
If you enjoy past Weakerthans, I don't see how you won't like this one. It's nothing really different from their other releases, John K Samson is still one of the best song writers out there, and this is just another great album from them.This Message Edited On 09.25.07
tom, Gump was crudely executed compared to other better tracks.
IsItLuck? I was aiming for a more concise take on this. I think for new releases that aren't particularly special to me, I'll be writing more concise reviews. Then for reviews that demand it, are older releases, or I have intense reactions to, I'll write epic reviews still.
I felt the same after listening to reunion tour once...but give it a few more listens and tracks like "Tournament of Hearts", "Sun in and Empty Room", and "Civil Twilight" will become as catchy as the pop songs the Weakerthans have written before.
Sure the album may not have anything as overtly catchy and strong as "This is a fire Door Never leave open", or "Aside" but lyrically it is still miles ahead of anything else being put out today and it gets better with each and every listen.
I've heard 'em all too. Fallow wasn't so great but it had a few solid singles (Confessions, Diagnosis, Wellington's Wednesdays). Reconstruction Site was amazing. Virtute, The Reasons...pretty much every song on that album was ace. I think it's their best release. Left & Leaving was almost on par with Reconstruction Site for me because I think it lacked a solid second half of the album.
Given my opinions about their previous albums, I think this is way better than Fallow, better than Left & Leaving, and almost as good as Reconstruction Site. It's so damn good. That said, my ratings for each album are 3/4/4.5/4.5 now that I thought about it more. This album rocks.