image Tournament of Hearts
The Constantines
Release: Oct 11, 2005
Sub Pop Records

Working full time is a catastrophe of proletariat America.  Line work, counting units, creating a middle-class where there once wasn’t is a product of blue collar history.  Manufacturing products for consumption required punching-in and losing control of your dreams.

Henry Ford created Detroit.  In essence the man distributed industry across state and national borders.  This is especially true when speaking of Canada.

Exclusivity has been running rampant through indie rock with too much fervor.  Young educated professionals dreaming up stories of Russian fairy tales and epic quests have turned to songwriting.  It’s about time someone started writing of the toils from an everyday-dead-end job again.  So, while The Decemberists write of palanquins, Ontario’s The Constantines write of discontented laborers, with a throw back to Springsteen, Steve Lambke wordsmiths’ images of conductors and hotline operators.

Tournament of Hearts is short.  It’s filled with a chugging, droning, building center.  With booming, Sabbath-like beats emulating machinery in some Canadian mill.  Breathing in acidic dust through a poorly designed HEPA mask and then climbing on stage to moan and grunt as best you can is the embodiment of vocalist Lambke.  Monotonous is usually an insult to music.  Yet, similarly to a line worker, Tournament of Hearts turns the tedious into some implied wanting ambition.  What The Constantines don’t write keeps one listening, waiting, and expecting a blast to occur.  However, the album wouldn’t be truthful if that catharsis was accomplished.  The laborer goes in everyday, places the steel, clears his hands, and punches the button.

I’d be tempted to use the term “stoner rock” here.  I presume just a mention without appending it to Tournament of Hearts is a safe way of separating The Constantines from groups that dominate the genre.  Though, it should be stated that those looking for the next classic rock influenced indie band will be equally satisfied as those cynics who abhor any suggestion of “garage rock.”

Sub Pop has once again proved it’s willingness to put out fantastic records whether or not they follow the path of label predecessors.