Shine a Light
Canada’s The Constantines are all about amalgamations. Sonically, they range from the stumble and swagger of The Replacements, to The Clash’s exotic eclecticism, to the twitchy H.P. Lovecraftian funk of Factory Records, to slack-jawed Southern soul. Singers Bryan Webb and Steve Lambke, likewise, are vocal chameleons spitting out spot on Strummer, Springsteen and Westerberg impressions at all the perfect moments.
This album is like the capture, compression and explosion of the greatest indie rock of the last twenty years. With its windmilled power chords (“Young Lions”), horn soaked choruses (“Goodbye Baby & Amen”), trailer park disco hymnals (“Insectivora”), The Cars fronted by The Boss (“On to You”) and Detroit cemetery punk (“Nighttime/Anytime (It’s Alright)”), Shine a Light covers almost all the territory you could ask it to, and does it all with a seamless flow.
Honestly, this album plays like a mixtape of lost tracks by all the abovementioned bands or, better yet, a supernatural super group of deceased rock icons and faded stars. It’s like a benevolent god granted them one last opportunity to make The Rock Album, and they succeed on every level. This is quite possibly the best straightforward indie rock record of 2003.