Even before you're heard it, The Constantines' debut signals DIY. Opening up the red and brown cardboard sleeve, you're presented with a match placed inside by hand, suggesting that you light it and start something a perfect metaphor for the album itself.
On the lead track, "Arizona," this Guelph, Ontario, punk band declares: "We want the death of rock and roll." The song is about the suicide of Danny Rapp, who, in the '50s, wrote "Rock 'n' Roll Is Here to Stay." The Constantines' singer, Bry Webb, once explained of the song, "It's about rock 'n' roll's obsession with death and celebrity." But I'd like to think that it's also about the reincarnation and revitalization of rock, something this band is all about.
Guitar whines, moans, and screams through songs like "Some Party" and "Young Offenders" ("This is the ballad of the young offenders/ Leave no manifesto, save graffiti in the train yard/ These legs were made to run.../ Can I get a witness?"), as the Cons take their lead from punk legends like The Clash and Fugazi.
On the softer numbers, Webb rasps out such lyrics as "My generation is a ghost town" ("The Long Distance Four"). It's easy to see why some Canadian rock critics have drawn comparisons to Springsteen.
The moments of true brilliance on this record (like "Hyacinth Blues" and "Steal This Sound") shimmer and sweat, the band members apparently possessed by decades of rock 'n' roll. But this is only the beginning for this quintet, whose members are all in their early 20s, from the small university town of Guelph. The Constantines are too good to be kept as a Canadian indie-rock secret. Pay heed to the last track, "Little Instruments," which closes with four words: "We got an amplifier."