After releasing two full-length albums via Sub City Records and building a fan base primarily through compilations, touring and simple word-of-mouth promotion, The Weakerthans are back with a new album, a new label and, from the sound of it, a new outlook. Songs like "Plea From a Cat Named Virtue" and "Our Retired Explorer (Dines With Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)" bounce along with shimmering optimism. And, while this time around the group fails to venture into near-punk territory, as they occasionally did in the past, the moderate country pace that weaves its way through most of the disc easily lends itself to a road-trip singalong. Lyrically, John K. Samson returns with bittersweet honesty, minus the air of solitude or sarcasm often prevalent in the band's previous recordings, and seamlessly delivers campfire songs for people too busy for campfires. (The Weakerthans play The Social, Monday, Oct. 20, with Mico, Formerly In English and Maritime.)
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