Rhythm & Views


Sick of indie rock? Me, too. From the Shins to the Kills to the Thermals, it's all just watered-down, late-'80s alt-rock minus flannel, hooks and innovative guitarmanship. Seriously, these crazy kids have made it impossible to find, much less buy, a vintage Telecaster in many urban areas of the country. Find another axe to grind, people!

Of course, there are always striking exceptions to the blandness that marks the indie-rock genre as a whole, and I suspect the Constantines play Telecasters because their stadium-rockin' hero Bruce Springsteen plays one. Songs like "Working Full-Time"--which sounds like an outtake from Darkness on the Edge of Town--and the love anthem "Lizaveta" are soaked in blue-collar sweat and factory-punched imagery. In the former, vocalists/guitarists Bryan Webb and Steve Lambke howl: "Vigilant people / In the cult of enterprise / Lean into the day / with all your heart and mind." There is real poetry to be enjoyed in Tournament of Hearts, a refreshing departure from the nonsensical lyrics that indie-rockers try to pass off as verse. Still, with its dry, muted production and spiky guitar arrangements, this album won't scare off any Modest Mouse fans.

Hailing from Guelph, Ontario, the Constantines have more to recommend them besides a knack for restrained yet rewarding songcraft. They bring a passionate intensity that threatens to boil over the tight, indie-rock format they refuse to abandon. In "Love in Fear," when Webb demands to be kissed on a rooftop "under helicopters of desire," you may find yourself wishing for a similar infatuation. Or you may just search eBay for a used Telecaster.