Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Tragically Hip's World Container

You knew this was going to be coming from me sooner or later. Many of you who know me personally out there know that I am a big fan of The Tragically Hip.

They're coming back to Edmonton to play a concert on January 14, by the way. Me? Row 31.

So anyway, that's not what I wanted to discuss. I didn't want to come online to brag about getting row 31 tickets to see The Tragically Hip in January. Truth be told, row 31 is not all that spectacular for a show at Rexall Place. It's good, but you're not going to win any medals for getting tickets for row 31. I got to see the Hip in a night club once. I should have got a medal for that one. But enough of this concert talk.

The new album by The Tragically Hip came out recently. It's called World Container. I would have done a review for you, my gentle readers, almost right after the fact had it not been for all of my recent computer problems, which you undoubtedly read about in my last post.

World Container is yet another strong outing by Canada's favorite band.

It's different then what listeners would come to expect from The Hip in recent offerings, though. The sound this time is a more concise rock record. There are more tracks here that a really indicative of a rock n' roll band's as opposed to a band fronted by an amazing poet. Don't get me wrong, the lyrics here are tremendous, "World Container" and "In View" are prime examples of that, but not in the way that the lyrics on In Violet Light or In Between Evolution are tremendous. Frontman Gord Downie, whom I am probably forever in debt to for almost literally making my head explode with lyrical appreciation over the years, doesn't canoodle the English language as much as he's done in the past, offering here a more sparse effort with his words, but it's more of an exercise in minimalizing than producer Bob Rock throttling the singer. I think that Bob Rock's production really sheds more light on the guitars of Paul Langlois and Rob Baker. Songs like "Family Band" and "The Drop Off" show off a couple of meaty riffs from Langlois that brought mind the old days of Up To Here.

So where does this sit in The Tragically Hip canon? I'm not entirely sure. I've listened to it a few times now and I can't decide entirely how it measures up to their previous efforts, especially In Violet Light and In Between Evolution. I think this is the kind of album that would win back any fans who have been alienated by the band's more esoteric direction with its latter albums, but it's not so straight-forward that the people who appreciated those colorful works could see it as a step backwards.

I guess I would have to say that this is the right album for them to do at this point. It's half way between old Hip and new Hip. It's calculated, laced with some really catchy songs and I don't think this could distance them from any of their fans, whether it's the arthouse crowd or the beer-swilling mullet-heads. And they might just get a few new fans (if there are any people who haven't heard them yet) to boot.

Thumbs up indeed.

See you in January.

What we have here are all flaws in progress
where all songs are one song and
that song is, DON'T FORGET

-Gordon Downie
"World Container"


Mike said...

Row 31 is quantifiably better than my Row 37 tickets. Oh well, it'll be a good show nonetheless.

As for World Container, I have to concur. It's not quite as dense and beautiful and "Evolution", but it has its own charms. A great album and I can't wait to hear the new material live - especially Yer Not The Ocean.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with your review. I've been listening to this gem for weeks now and it is my favourite Hip cd to date. I have them all and have seen them 10 times in concert. This, my friends, is a genuinely monolithic recording! Enjoy the concert!
John in Vancouver

Craigens said...

Cool. We have tickets to the Toronto show in February. The last 2 on sale, so they aren't great. But I'm happy. :)