Toronto-based rock outfit The Constantines have been on tour previewing their latest release Kensington Heights, a hard rocking, almost English influenced twelve-track disc marking the band’s fourth studio effort.
Kensington Heights opens with a crazy riff and synth part over steady drums played with brushes. The scratchy and powerful rock vocals of Bry Webb on “Hard Feelings.” He blatantly lays out the band’s image singing, “You can tell by the way I talk / You can tell by the way we walk / We are hard.”
The slower, hard “Million Star Hotel” follows with a gritty rock sound that is the band’s M.O. on this disc, exemplified on “Trans Canada,” “I Will Not Sing A Hateful Song,” and “Brother Run Them Down,” in addition to “Million Star Hotel.” Despite the grim and grit in the Constantines’ beats and riffs, they know how to create driving songs with plenty of hooky to keep you listening for more, especially in “Million Star Hotel,” “Our Age” and opener “Hard Feelings.”
The Constantines also venture into soft and smooth territory on “Time Can Be Overcome,” “Life or Death” and “New King,” which function as the album’s ballads with soft and low vocals atop minimalist chord progressions and simple bass lines. Closing song “Do What You Can Do” begins in the smoother, minimalist style, laced with staccato lyrical spurts but picks up into driving guitars riffs and bass lines increasing the tempo as Webb demands, “Do what you can do with what you got” over and over. There is a crescendo of sound before the album fades out on a single riff.
While not overly impressed on the whole by Kensington Heights, I loved track 8, “Credit River,” and its space age-y riffs and synth and loud, driving drums. It’s a poppier song than the rest of the gritty disc, but it features great instrumentation and is just a wonderful song. Kensington Heights is a hard rocking explosion of sound building on what The Constantines have been creating since their debut release in 2001.
You can catch The Constantines finishing up their spring tour now or when they hit the road in June for select cities and festivals. Look for Kensington Heights in stores now.
May 02 – Capital Music Hall/Ottawa, Ontario
May 03 – Club Lambi/Montreal, Quebec
May 16 – ATP Festival/Minehead
Jun 17 – 7th Street Entry/Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jun 18 – Pyramid Cabaret/Winnipeg, Manitoba
Jun 19 – The Exchange/Regina, Saskatchewan
Jun 20 – Louis’ Pub/Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Jun 21 – The Starlite Room/Edmonton, Alberta
Jun 22 – Virgin Festival/Fort Calgary Calgary, Alberta
Jun 24 – Kelowna/Kelowna, British Columbia
Jun 26 – Richard’s on Richards/Vancouver, British Columbia
Jun 27 - Sugar Nightclub/Victoria, British Columbia
Jun 28 – TOFINO/Tofino, British Columbia
Jun 29 – Neumo’s/Seattle, Washington
Jun 30 – Doug Fir Lounge/Portland, Oregon
Jul 02 – Slim’s/San Francisco, California
Jul 03 – Troubadour/Los Angeles, California
Jul 04 – Casbah/San Diego, California
Jul 06 – Urban Lounge/Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 08 – Hi-Dive/Denver, Colorado
Aug 30 – Electric Picnic/Dublin, Ireland
Sep 06 – V-FEST/Toronto, Ontario