Review: Jack Foley
THE Constantines would appear to be at the forefront of Canada's
underground music scene at the moment, following their emergence
in 1999, with an eponymous debut album which quickly landed them
a Juno Award nomination for best alternative album.
In addition, the debut very nearly broke records in the Canadian
college radio charts and was a regular fixture in the year end
lists of Canada's best read music press.
The follow-up, Shine A Light, seeks to expand on that
reputation, and integrate itself into rock's mainstream, particularly
as they have jumped from the indie-based Three Gut Records to
Sub Pop for greater exposure.
The result, according to drummer, Doug MacGregor is 'like an
unwelcome mix of Memphis Clash and breakneck dub'. Welll, he said
This is harder-edged Clash, with grungier guitars, and dub breaks
which really does suggest that its roots lie in the underground
Fleetingly effective, as in tracks such as Young Lions,
or recent single, Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright), the
album generally seems to get caught in third gear.
It lacks the verve or style of, say, Canada's other band of the
moment, The Stills,
even though it would seem to aspire to a similar music genre.
Young Lions is a good example of where the band could
go, if it were minded to, expertly tapping into the disenfranchised
youth it is primarily concerned about, without feeling overly
depressing, but there is an overbearing, overly brooding quality
about the majority of the rest of proceedings, which seems to
hold it back.
Goodbye Baby and Amen, for instance, wallows in melancholy,
but feels a little too depressed for its own good, dragging you
down the river with it, while Scoundrel Babies fails to rise above
the promise shown in its intriguing title, coming across as just
another punk-based rock-out, with angry lyrics.
If they'd stuck to brighter indie riffs such as On To You
and Poison, they may have prospered better, for this is
when the Springsteen comparisons really spring to mind (in vocal
style), and where the album feels worth getting excited about.
Sadly, there just isn't enough of it...
1. National Hum
2. Shine A Light
3. Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)
5. Young Lions
6. Goodbye Baby & Amen
7. On To You
9. Scoundrel babes
10. Tigar & Crane
11. Tank Commander(Hung Up In A Warehouse Town)