That, in a nutshell, is the strange and piquant vibe of Shine a Light, the second full-length album from Canada's Constantines. Singer-guitarist Bry Webb plays the role of MacGowan/Strummer, and he can manipulate his croak into either an urgent near-howl or a gruff yet soulful grunt. Meanwhile, bassist Dallas Wehrle, much like Fugazi's Joe Lally or the Jesus Lizard's David Wm. Sims, is the band's most potent weapon, pushing the intensity with an insistent melodic throb on the more inflamed tracks.
This taut, unorthodox approach works best for the Constantines. The quasi-pub-rock of "On to You" and the stomping, rootsy "Sub-Domestic" do not; those tracks bend and scuff the edges of what would otherwise be a mint offering. Stick to the road less traveled, fellas -- it makes all the difference.