The Weakerthans
Left and Leaving


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
November 18th, 2010 | 149 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Somewhere someone says, "I'm sorry," someone's making plans to stay.

Without meaning to employ hyperbole but doubtlessly failing, Left And Leaving is one of those immensely powerful and enveloping albums which sounds as though it has no genre. It's often easy to forget how huge the musical art form is as a result of the narrow scope we have on it, but very frequently we overlook how arbitrary it can become; 2 guitars, a bass guitar, a drumset and a microphone are the components which now come with a Start Your Own Band kit, and how depressing is that? Music is simply an art form whose medium is sound; that we restrict ourselves to those parameters with such great frequency is almost criminal.

So by now, if you haven't heard of The Weakerthans before you opened this review, you will be expecting me to assert that when John K. Samson left Propagandhi it was because he had tired of all convention; that the band he formed soon after was a wildly experimental outfit intent on challenging the pre-conceived ideas we have of rock songs. But what if I told you that almost the exact opposite were true? Disappointed? Please don't be. Because when I said that Left And Leaving seems to have no genre, I meant it in a much warmer, more affectionate way. With all of the arbitrary techniques and ideas we use in music, it is so rare to find a record which sounds entirely - completely - at ease, comfortable within its own skin.

What that entails, of course, is not a great deal of musical innovation at all, and would that such a realisation concluded this review. But no; while The Weakerthans are inconspicuous, they are by no means invisible. Part of this is down to those arbitrary guitars, distorted or plucked to familiar degrees, but playing out the affecting melodies that soar and dip at the most perfect points. Part of it is down to the standard-mix rock drums, behaving completely predictably but still exploding in the chorus and providing all the momentum necessary. But no. Ignore this; this is a lie. These things are just the framework; the only reason Left and Leaving is an album worth your time is John K. Samson.

If you find that lyrics are an integral part of your listening experience, it would suffice to place the entirety of what Samson sings in his matter of fact tone on 'This Is A Fire Door, Never Leave Open', but to do so would be to take those words out of context, out of position, out of their beds in the framework so effortlessly and masterfully crafted by the unassuming band that accompanies Samson. He is less of a conductor, more of a protagonist, but entirely a poet; gut-shot revelations of despair mix with intricate and extensive metaphors and none of it is pretentious; he simply describes the sort of feelings brought about by painful situations without any mention of emotion.

This is why it does not matter whether Left and Leaving is rocking, stumbling or relaxing, which are its three moods in equal measure, because every second of it harbours an intensity courtesy of Samson's incredible talent to weave characters and scenery around uncomplicated guitar chords and various tempos. Combine these things with the simple fact that everything's beautiful simplicity - even Samson's lyrics are rarely puzzling - renders the album unbelievably catchy, and it's clear to appreciate why these songs are so difficult to get away from. They are heavy, emotional and sincere, but in the same moment carefree, epitomising the whole beauty in pain rhetoric that too often becomes a cliché.

I am told that, in fact, Left and Leaving is a punk album, but there is a large part of me which thinks it is actually far more pop. That does not make it a pop-punk record; don't believe that for a second. It is straightforward, simple, direct, relatable and very, very passionate. It is packed with hooks and dramatic, almost cinematic moments of brilliance. It exists in a void, and is deserving of the highest praise possible. Go listen. Now.



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user ratings (259)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Bryan Diem (5)
An album about disappointment that never disappoints....

ConsiderPhlebas (5)
A sense of wonder only slightly used...

tom79 (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
November 18th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

so much for those first 5 words right

Knott-
Emeritus
November 18th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

also i obviously hate ending reviews by telling people to listen to the album but i really couldnt justify anything else here

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


15050 Comments


"Without meaning to employ hyperbole but doubtlessly failing, Left And Leaving is one of those immensely powerful and enveloping albums which sounds as though it has no genre."

dangling modifier, or so i think; this sentence never includes what i think you meant to be the subject (you) and instead implies that left and leaving is the thing that doesnt mean to employ hyperbole but ultimately fails

but maybe that is what you meant?

Hep Kat
November 18th 2010


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

well i'm not gonna go listen now but gj. this is my fave weakerthans album

Knott-
Emeritus
November 18th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

No, I mean 'me'. I'm tired, but is it a stylistic decision to use an implied subject in the first clause? Does a colon instead of a comma fix it? Urgh.

Hep Kat
November 18th 2010


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i would call it a stylistic decision. i understood what you meant after i stopped trying to count the first five words and read at the same time. too high

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


15050 Comments


i definitely wouldnt categorize that as a stylistic decision rofl

to most readers it will be obvious what you meant but from an objectively grammatical standpoint you
are saying that left and leaving is the thing that fails in its lack of employing hyperbole, which,
conflicting with what you really meant, is indeed a mistake

but w/e im just hatin on niggas

edit: its pretty easily fixable though haha

ConsiderPhlebas
November 18th 2010


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I've got like a dozen half-done reviews for this, but could never get anything together without sounding like I was foaming at the mouth. Really excellent work, man.

Hep Kat
November 18th 2010


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

idioms are stylistic decisions. they're used all the time. as long as the reader gets i dont even want to go here what the fuck am i doing

Knott-
Emeritus
November 18th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah i agree with you that grammatically that's clearly what it means

but idk i feel like there should be a way to maintain that start to the review

dunno

Knott-
Emeritus
November 18th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah phlebas im fully fucking aware of that problem haha!

i had this as a 4.5 until today but there's no way it's a 4.5

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


15050 Comments


@hep

a dangling modifier isnt an idiom its an error


once again i have no qualms lol im just saying. and just because the reader can interpret it and
understand it doesnt mean its not an error, i dont think i should need to point out the countless
examples

sorry im shitting up your thread

xfearbefore
November 18th 2010


1245 Comments


Sweeeet review. Pos'd. Funny because I literally JUST finished listening to this album for the first time this afternoon and absolutely loved it. Listened to Reconstruction Site a few hours ago and have been listening to it on repeat since, it's only very slightly better than this IMO. Still this is amazing.

Not sure why people call this group folk-punk though, they don't really fit the genre.

ConsiderPhlebas
November 18th 2010


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So 5 it hurts

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


16409 Comments


i have yet to hear a weakerthans song. will get on it. sometime.

edit: great review as usual, posalicious

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Knott-
Emeritus
November 18th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

in due time this is better than RS. i used to think the same as you.

it's cool man i'll try and fix it in a way i feel happy with but if knott it stays!

also i tried to write this without mentioning a single lyric cause you know i dont wanna ruin things

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


15050 Comments


also never heard this band should probs check out

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


15050 Comments


"Very good review

"...with the simple fact that everything's beautiful simplicity"

Should be "...beautifully simplistic.""

nah not true, read it over again--remove the clause

"Combine these things with the simple fact that everything's beautiful simplicity renders the album
unbelievably catchy,"

i mean its sort of awkward but "simplistic" would be wrong lol

Enotron
November 18th 2010


7695 Comments


HSThomas bitin sumof sona's sswag

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


15050 Comments


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