The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving

The Weakerthans
Left and Leaving

The Weakerthans have proven that it can be done. With little media exposure or radio play, the band has built a solid fan base in a rather unusual way: they’ve written great songs, released an outstanding album, and toured relentlessly to win over hoards of Canadian fans. Left and Leaving is the band’s second full-length effort, and although it’s been out for some time, it is still the perfect showcase for their intelligent lyrics and boatloads of artistic integrity.
At first listen, Left and Leaving could be dismissed as just another pop album, despite the singer’s background with the political punk group Propaghandi. On the surface you’ve heard it all before: jangly guitars, exploding choruses, and introspective ballads. By the second listen, however, you begin to realize that there is more to this band than the average alt-rock outfit. By the third listen, you realize you’ve only scratched the surface and this disc will be residing in your player for a long, long time.
The Weakerthans are the Little Guys (for lead vocalist and songwriter John K. Sampson, this is true both literally and figuratively), and the upbeat guitar-pop of some tracks hides a deep undercurrent of anger and frustration. “Forty-hour work week weighs a thousand kilograms,” sings Sampson on the album opener, “so bend your knees, comes with a free fake smile, for all your dumb demands.”
A quick browse through the lyric sheet shows that Samson’s writing could stand alone in a book of poetry. In “Pamphleteer,” Samson is “weary with right-angles, abbreviated daylight, and waiting for winter to be done,” as he takes on the role of a lonely protester freezing on a street corner and ignored by pedestrians too busy to listen to his cause. While even most rocking tracks (“Aside,” “This is a Fire Door Never Leave Open”) are layered with depth, the album’s slower ballads expose the band’s brilliance most effectively. The title track is heartbreaking, as is “My Favourite Chords,” a song that seems to perfectly outline the plight of the little guy in most eloquent terms: “the mayor’s out killing kids to keep taxes down, and me in my anger sit folding a paper bird, letting the curtains turn to beating wings.”
The Weakerthans are a rare and precious treat for those who are lucky enough to have stumbled across their music. On Left and Leaving, the band stands head and shoulders above the crowd.