The Weakerthans
Reunion Tour



by JAD USER (11 Reviews)
September 30th, 2007 | 9 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Reunion tours rarely live up to expectations, fortunately Reunion Tour does.

Nobody can ever say that the Weakerthan’s aren’t proud of their home country. Their frontman, John K. Samson, traffics in frigid short stories and character sketches about distinctly Canadian themes: curling, a disgraced hockey player, and supposed big foot sightings. He can’t help but conjure up images of a long, cold, desolate expanse of snow, particularly with his world-weary voice. And the rest of the band gives his writing a perfect platform of down-to-earth pop hooks and melodic riffs. In fact, the only remnant of Samson’s tenure in hardcore punk activists Propaghandi is the brutal honesty that pervades his writing.

Reunion Tour, the long awaited follow up to 2003’s Reconstruction Site doesn’t veer far from the sound that has earned them such a dedicated following, but it is perhaps the best representation of them as a band. Nearly all of the songs found here are instantly accessible, yet retain enough nuance to keep the listener coming back. In fact the strangest moment on the record occurs within its first twelve seconds, on the opener “Civil Twilight”, in which a Minus the Bear-like guitar part pans back and forth. Fortunately, this is immediately replaced by a concise song with a huge chorus. Choruses like this appear often on Reunion Tour yet even at their most vibrant they don't show any signs of celebration.

What makes the Weakerthan’s such an interesting band is their ability to set Samson’s short stories and poems, which rarely rhyme, to music. More importantly, they do it in such a way that they do not sound like, well, short stories set to music. His melodies highlight the despondence of his characters. There’s the curling player asking “why, why can’t I draw right up to what I want to say"”, the terminally ill patient pleading “make them remember me as more than a queer experiment; more than a diagram in their quarterly.” And if these lyrics sound wordy, or even clunky, Samson effortlessly transforms them into sing-a-longs and memorable melodies. He even writes sequel to the song “A Plea From Virtue the Cat.” In “A Plea” he wrote form the perspective of a cat asking it’s owner why he wouldn’t play with it anymore. Now in the heartbreaking “Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure”, Samson finds himself detailing the cat as a runaway, who only wishes it could return home.

The band itself does more than an admirable job crafting catchy hooks around Samson’s lyrics. Guitarist Stephen Carroll, bassist Greg Smith, and drummer Jason Tait flesh out several songs with pedal steel, banjos, and tape loops. Even the records two token oddities, “Elegy For Gump Worsley” and “Big Foot!”, are written impeccably. The records centerpiece of sorts comes in the form of two brilliant pop songs, “Sun in an Empty Room” and “Night Windows”. These two tracks are the closest Reunion Tour gets to being hopeful. But, although the record reflects the snowy landscapes that make up its artwork, it doesn’t mean it’s frosty or frigid. Instead, like any good story, it sits you down and holds your attention. And if Samson’s stories are about cold and desolate people, it doesn’t mean that his band can’t be warm and inviting.

Recomended Tracks:
Civil Twilight
Hymn of the Medical Oddity
Tournment of Hearts
Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure
Night Windows

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user ratings (181)
other reviews of this album
204409 EMERITUS (2.5)
Reunion tours are never quite good enough....

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I figured there should be a review that represents the other side of the coin. I'm still not totally satisfied with this, though.

September 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for writing this JAD. Consensus was that we needed another opinion.

I really liked your first paragraph. Your style is easy to follow but my face wrinkles with some of your grammar. I recommend reading your sentences back to yourself. You write well.

The song is called "Sun in an Empty Room" as opposed to "Son." S'all I got. Again, good job.

September 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, I'll touch it up. The son thing was a typo.

Edit: Ok, I think it flows a bit better now.This Message Edited On 09.30.07

Two-Headed Boy
October 1st 2007


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Such a fantastic album. Great review.

October 7th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

i gotta disagree here. jon's songs are great but not honest, he's a poet, and poets lie, if they have to. it's that ability you mentioned to adhere lyrics to melody without compromise that is a remnant, or which he learned rather, from his propagandhi (check those typos) days.


the "elegy for gump worsley" is a poem, and poems suck, i'm sorry. sneaking it in there as a song is what he did with half the tracks on this album. he's still got the gift, but this is their worst album, just because it was rushed.

and it's virtute. virtute.

November 1st 2007


actually the album was far from rushed. all of these songs have been in different stages of writing for a long time. there's multiple versions of almost every song on the album.

November 13th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Night Windows and Civil Twilight are fantastic

November 13th 2007


Relative Surplus Value is such a great song to drive around to, but Night Windows and Civil Twilight are definitely up there as my other favorites.

November 18th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Sick album, good review

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