The Weakerthans may not be a band that is widely known this side of the pond, The Winnipeg, Manitoba natives formed by former Propagandhi member John K. Samson had a brand of heart on sleeve, lyrical indie rock that was utterly irresistible, none more so for me than on their 2003, Epitaph released album Reconstruction Site.
Reconstruction Site is an album of songs exploring the emotions of loss and hope, framed by a series of sonnets named (Manifest), (Hospital Vespers) and (Past Due) that follow a terminally ill hospital patient on the way to his inevitable death. From The Reasons ode to love, to the plaintive Palm For The Elks Lodge Last Call, this is an incredibly crafted album, John K. Samson’s ability to turn a phrase really is second to none within his field, evocative lyricism on songs such Plea From A Cat Named Virtute, a song written from the perspective of a cat toward his depressed owner to try and pull him out of a rut. On a slightly more obscure note ‘Our Retired Explorer’ concerns a fictional meeting between philosopher Michel Foucault and a member of Ernest Shackletons Antarctic expedition, where does an idea like that even come from?! Why does it work?! It does though, wonderfully. The albums title track is another incredibly evocative tale of nostalgia in the face of the protagonists own mortality.
The songs that feature on this album are so structured and multi layered that any number of meanings can be taken from the assembled work. It is one of my favourite albums of all time and a true work of art.