Review Summary: The sometimes gentle, sometimes rambunctious genesis of a magical career.
8 of 12 thought this review was well written
While they may not be the most prolific band, Winnipeg’s The Weakerthans have recruited a devoted legion of fans during their twelve year career, producing four full length albums of literate and brilliantly infectious indie-rock along the way. As is the case with many bands, their beginnings were a promise of greatness that would only be fully realised in their sophomore record and beyond; but what Fallow lacks in refinement compared to its older siblings is more than made up for with a breezy, wonderfully rich character that will be familiar to fans of their later records, and a warm welcome to any newcomers.
On paper, The Weakerthans’ formula seems deceptively simple: music that ranges from upbeat and catchy indie-rock, to more austere, gentler moments where the instrumentation is stripped away, leaving room for John Samson’s voice to drift through the endless elegance and wit of his lyrics. Throughout Fallow the tone of the record swells and recedes, with the delicacy of songs such as ‘Sounds Familiar’ and ‘None of the Above’ finding their natural home amongst brisk, punkier numbers like ‘Confessions of a Futon-Revolutionist’. The melodic backbone of the record might be more comparable to folk and americana than any other genre, but the more energetic moments of the record rattle along with a cheerful brevity that is decidedly punk, albeit a mature, indie brand of punk; one infused with a deep, even affectionate warmth.
The record is refreshingly devoid of any production trickery, each song carrying with it a beautifully organic air. Even at their most vigorous the guitar sound is merely touched with distortion, leaving every change in key open to inspection; the drums are the quiet heartbeat of the slow sections, and even when they step up a gear they remain an astute compliment to the overall feel of the music, providing energy without overpowering. Samson’s wry tone suits the instrumentation of the record to a tee, and his lyricism, with all its wealth of imagery and characterisation, seems as effortless as it is poetic. Tales of sadness, loss and growing-up are punctuated with subtle, wonderfully vivid images, like a finger tracing through spilled sugar, or the frantic black eyes of a wounded bird. Even the most ardent enemies of indie-rock would be hard pressed to deny that this guy can write.
Even so, Fallow will never be considered The Weakerthans’ greatest record – the release of a stunning second album will do that to a debut – but the truth is, it doesn’t need to be. Where some bands’ debuts eventually become inescapable millstones tied around their necks, The Weakerthans’ first shot remains an uncut diamond that will always be the respectable beginning of something truly beautiful. Welcome aboard.
The Last Last One
Letter of Resignation
Well it's pretty easy to tell you're not a first timer like most of the reviewers who start on here. I don't think I'm very consistent when it comes to reviews though cause for every keeper I delete at least 3 cause they either suck or my perfectionism gets in the way.
Also yeah I'll try this out but forgive me if I don't rave to you about it cause most likely it'll get written off as hipster mumbo jumbo.
Sorry guys, but I cannot stand this band. The singer is fucking godawful, the instrumentation is mediocre, and the lyrics... ugh. Its not that I'm missing the joke, I see it right in front of me, its just not a funny one.
"I'll try to keep some part of me sincere"
Funny thing that, he failed miserably.
as i just said, its wrong to be so quick to judge his entire demeanor based on their first/worst album. the weakerthans are notorious for taking years between albums, so you're basically dismissing a decade of maturity and growth in samsons songwriting by calling them crap on their debut effort.
it was the last weakerthans album i listened to, having already fallen in love with the band, so i take some appreciation out of seeing where it all started and how they've matured, as well as the fact that i just love samsons songwriting. lines like "the nights a spill / a permanent stain / the city soaks in silence" are awesome. but yeah, they really turned into something else with left and leaving and reconstruction site, listen to those with an open mind.