As I am based in the continent of Europe, this is an advance review leading up to the European release date of who knows when as Anti have decided not to synchronise the date with North America, which will of course lead to lots of people in Europe downloading the album. Sort it out Gurewitz!
Enough of that nonsense though, as the Weakerthans are back with their fourth album and follow-up to 2003's Reconstruction Site, an album which burned more slowly than the previous two but showed no impending lack of quality.
This album starts with four songs which are much more immediate than the majority of Reconstruction Site; the intro to the first track, Civil Twilight, almost sounds like it could turn into a cheesy commercial pop song, but soon heads into their familiar mid-paced melodic rock with some lovely lyrics about provinces and Hollywood actors and a superb use of the word 'etcetera'. There is also the similarly rocking Tournament of Hearts, with lyrical references to guiding husky dogs across an arctic landscape which leads into a defiant ending, turning around a bout of self-doubt.
The rest of the album is a much more sober affair, but even after relatively few listens I think it contains some of my favourite songs by the band. Weakerthans albums, for me, all have a 'double-whammy'; a duo of songs next to each other that are just peerless. On this album it is Sun in an Empty Room, with its lightly stomping rhythm, wonderfully unforgettable chorus and dualling guitar/keyboard outro; and Night Windows, which probably has my favourite arrangements and melody on the entire album. The bass intro sounds good, the guitars sound good, the percussion is very impressive and the way the backing vocals come in towards the end is perfect. Fantastic.
I have got to the point with this band where I don't have a favourite album. I like them all pretty much equally as they all fit different moods. But, before I heard this one, I was worried that it might be just another Weakerthans album... a decent listen but not as good as the others. How wrong I was. This is already a classic album for me and it's not even out yet. There are no poor songs and many exceptional ones, and an overall sense of quality that doesn't make itself apparent from many bands.