[image-4]Published May 15, 2008.
(Arts and Crafts)
What is there not to love about the Constantines? Since their earth-shattering unveiling in 2000, the Constantines have always been solid, if not downright brilliant---critically lauded darlings of the blogosphere, but too pensive and daring for mass appreciation. Their fourth album, Kensington Heights, is the first since the Toronto bands eponymous debut that (from start to finish) unsettles foundations and consistently elicits oh mys and other declarations of awe. Ferocity hits right off the top on Hard Feelings, thanks to a synthesizer sound that dares you to make chase. It is a stunning leadoff track---propulsive, urgent and angular, sucking you into its core only to spit you out right into the 70s rock-cum-math-punk ethos of Million Star Hotel. With deafening intensity intermixed with softer contemplation---as anthemic a piece as the Constantines will ever write---the song defines everything fans have come to expect and love about this fantastic band. And then there is Our Age (a travelling song) and the acoustic New King (a beautiful duet with Jennifer Castle) that clearly exemplifies the bands versatility. If the Constantines are not yet the best in the land, Kensington Heights lays down the gauntlet, daring others to step up and be recognized.