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Constantines - Shine A Light


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 it!

This is harder-edged Clash, with grungier guitars, and dub breaks which really does suggest that its roots lie in the underground scene.

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...

Track listing:
1. National Hum
2. Shine A Light
3. Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)
4. Insectivora
5. Young Lions
6. Goodbye Baby & Amen
7. On To You
8. Poison
9. Scoundrel babes
10. Tigar & Crane
11. Tank Commander(Hung Up In A Warehouse Town)
12. Sub-Domestic

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