Lyrical Genius and Muscular Rock,
This review is from: Reconstruction Site (Audio CD)
A friend of mine introduced me to The Weakerthans with this album. I've since bought all of their other albums. I love bands that can write lyrics with at least a little bit of poetic merit, and this one goes way beyond that mark. Even better, they don't sacrifice entertaining music for their excellent lyrics -- the guitars are powerful and driving in most of these songs, and there's generally a strong drum line as well.
In terms of the lyrics, almost all of these songs strike a particular mood of melancholy optimism that really does it for me. One particular standout in that regard is "Plea From a Cat Named Virtute" (major props for incorporating Latin into a song title without sounding pretentious, by the way), which has become one of my favorite songs ever. There's also a recurring motif about a patient in a hospital that I don't quite get, but which I think is meant to be a sort of thematic motivator for the rest of the album. In particular, there's a line in one song about doctors upping dosages and reading books about Arctic explorers that I think is supposed to justify the inclusion of "Our Retired Explorer," which is a freakin' awesome song, but a bit random and lyrically unlike the rest of the album.
Anyway, if you're the type to pay attention to lyrics, this is a definite buy, as is "Left and Leaving" and pretty much any other Weakerthan album.