Reconstruction Site - The Weakerthans
Reconstruction Site Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 21 Ratings

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  • Summary: This is the third album for the Winnipeg, Canada-based group led by former Propagandhi member John K. Samson.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. As wonderfully crafted an album as Reconstruction Site is, some listeners will be put off by its perceived highbrow attitude; it's too scholarly for the masses, too pop-smart for the avant garde set.
  2. It's an outstanding piece of work -- literate, catchy, and emotional.
  3. This would be an easy record to (dis)miss; aside from the intellectual reaching... it glides by fairly effortlessly on initial listenings. But textures -- Stephen Carroll's lap/pedal steel guitar, Sarah Harmer's cozy backing vocals that make the band sound like a more laid-back New Pornographers, Jason Tait's tight, emotional drumming and the warmth of vibes and glockenspiel -- reveal themselves long after the lyricism ceases to delight.
  4. An album that's smart at every level.
  5. 80
    A catchy rock record steeped in intelligent social and personal commentary that incorporates pedal and lap steel with great cowpunk results. [#60, p.119]
  6. Musically, Reconstruction Site has more in common with literate indie types like Clem Snide or even the mature, clear-eyed work of Michael Penn.
  7. Throughout it's fourteen tracks, there's no doubting The Weakerthans are smart guys who keep up with literature and politics, but over the course of an entire album the band's ambitious literary posturing drowns in the bland songwriting and lack of captivating hooks.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Oct 15, 2010
    This is, in my opinion, one of the best evaluations of grief and loss in any form of media; it's easily the best album I've ever heard to grapple with the idea. Nothing I've heard or seen, and very little I've read, has come even close to capturing the spectrum of emotions and states that accompany the process of loss and mourning, from awaiting the inevitable to grim reflection, and the cacophony of emotions in between. Even during the album's upbeat beginnings, you can can visualize the grimace behind Samson's voice as he sings about how, "I'm so glad that you exist" on "The Reasons"; the relentless ennui and depression that permeates throughout "Plea from a cat named virtue"; the desperate attempts to re-enter back into normalcy on "Our Retired Explorer"; the passive introspection on "A New Name for Everything"; the sheer desperation and agony of "Benediction" (the album's highest point); everything is agonizingly perfect in capturing the whole spectrum of the experience. Yet, in spite of how depressing this album's theme may seem, its so brilliantly crafted that it's not an album only to break out on rainy days and at wakes; some of these songs are almost criminally catchy ("The Reasons" "Our Retired Explorer"), and the album speaks just as much to the lasting joy of memory as it does to the sorrow of immediate loss. Indeed, as heartbreaking an album as "Reconstruction Site" may be, it doesn't end leaving you an emotional mess; in fact, it makes everything feel a little bit better, strangely.

    TL;DR: This is one of the best albums ever made. If you haven't listened to it yet, stop what you're doing and get it. (Standout tracks: Everything! What, not particular enough? Ok, fine, "Reconstruction Site", "Plea from a Cat Named Virtute", "Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michael Focault in Paris, 1961)", "A New Name For Everything", "One Great City", "Benediction")
  2. Jan 30, 2011
    I hate Winnipeg.

See all 18 User Reviews