Review Summary: He thought about how everyone dies someday, and when tomorrow gets here where will yesterday be, and fell asleep in his brand-new winter coat
I imagine that life becomes much more real when the threat of inevitable death is looming. We handily brush away thoughts of mortality in the best times, don’t we" Yet, when confronted with death jeopardizing people we love and notions we’ve become accustomed to, a sudden urge to communicate better, to sleep less and do more, and to pack as much emotion and meaning into the tiniest spaces possible kicks in. The Weakerthans’ Reconstruction Site
is a dually tragic and fascinating story fueled by this notion. Samson’s already-expert lyricism and wittiness is magnified by this looming impression of death and of how to cope with it, catapulting Reconstruction Site
is the process of flushing out your mind due to confronting the worst head-on, and consequently struggling to fill it up with new material that doesn’t remind of your trials. Despite highbrow references to philosophers and artists alike (not simply your PH101 fare, but rather the more obscure likes of Derrida, Foucault, James Agee and Martin Amis) Samson still somehow achieves a level of intimacy even though the references are likely lost among the masses. Samson (or simply “John K.” the name with which adoring fans have adorned him) crafts a new name for everything, using humor and socio-political observations to complement the fairly conventional (yet fitting), subtle indie tunage. He even has the chutzpah to write a song from the perspective of his feline that details Samson’s despondence (“Plea From a Cat Named Virtute”). Lying somewhere between folk, indie, and a cinch of leftover Propagandhi-esque attitude, Reconstruction Site
’s sonic nature matches its lyrical nature in that Samson struggles to pack as much intimate emotion, hooks, and the most magical one-liners you’ll ever hear into little space. He doesn’t try
though, he does
-- and in effect, Reconstruction Site
succeeds on every level. In-between Samson’s poignancy about the unavoidable finality of death are flourishes of horns, acoustic finger-picking to die for, and tight, emotive drumming that pulls together the entirety. Less is more, as Samson knows well. Reconstruction Site
flows not by making grand statements and crowding instruments but by simple phrasing and preciseness that belies the seriousness of the subject, much like the quirks that make the album so endearing. From the self-aggrandizing, to the eye-rolling and affectionate, Samson packs bundles of warmth and affectation into this masterpiece, knitting the lyrical perfection tightly among the fitting instrumentals. Much in the manner one might confront death, Reconstruction Site
is altogether both extraordinarily real in its attempts to reveal reconstructing life in the face of death while remaining down-to-earth with Samson’s sharpened wit and perceptive reflections.
The drunken liturgies of Reconstruction Site
wobble warily on the precipices of pretension and jocularity, but never commit to either, instead settling in an area all the more realistic. Reconstruction Site
, as pleasing or fulfilling as it may be, could never cheat death or avoid the inevitable; but, Samson proves that with lyrical expertise and the astounding ability to construct insightful phrases with relatable diction that he’s created a piece of art that can help us cope with the tragic.