Recordings: The Constantines – Tournament of Hearts

    Subtlety may be an often-ignored skill — but the Constantines have seamlessly incorporated nuances into their third album, Tournament of Hearts, leaving a haunting melancholy to set in after its verses. The quintet distinguishes their music, a mixture of traditional rock and sub-pop, through their poignant lyrics (dedicated to the working class of nurses, conductors and hotline operators), with help from Bryan Webb’s scratchy-yet-calming voice.

    While the album starts out strong, it does not have a very engaging beat, but utilizes meticulously composed low-key melodies. Doug McGregor’s percussions do keep the rhythm afloat, but between the blood-pumping jolts of “Lizaveta,” and the last song, “Windy Road,” aided by Webb’s voice and Steve Lambke’s soft guitar, their erratic rhythms and droning mellow pauses drag down the second half of the CD.

    The Constantines’ unpretentious album has many fine points but it takes a patient ear to get through their humble art. So turn it up, listen to it twice. It won’t make you cry, but it may make you wonder why you aren’t.

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