The Hip continue to evolve
By DARRYL STERDAN — Winnipeg Sun

Tragically Hip
World Container

When you’re a big-time rock band — even a big-time Canadian rock band — it must be tempting to stay safely ensconced in your own little self-important world. To make the same crowd-pleasing CD over and over again.

To play the hits for the same fans at the same sold-out arenas year after year. To do nothing to burst the bubble of your own fame and fortune.

So you’ve got to give Gord Downie and his Tragically Hip bandmates some credit for not being that band. They don’t necessarily reinvent their CanRock wheel every time they go into the studio.

But they do seem to try to move in a few new directions instead of just sticking to the same old worn pathways.

Their dozenth disc World Container is no exception. “There are places I’ve never been and always wanted to go,” yelps Downie on the aptly titled Fly. And so he does — in the musical sense, anyway.

The charming single In View may be the most obvious jumping-off point, with its bouncy beat and poppy keyboard hook offsetting Downie’s high-register warble and lovey-dovey lyrics. But the 11-song disc holds several other subtle departures from the 23-year-old quintet’s trademark sound.

The Lonely End of the Rink borrows some ringing reggae-rock guitars from The Police. The Kids Don’t Get It goes one step further, with a skanking guitar and nimble bassline that possess vaguely Clash-like overtones. It’s followed by Pretend, which cunningly recasts Kids’ lyrical dialogue — ” ‘If I ask you a question, are you gonna lie to me?’ / ‘Is that your question? ‘Cause that one is easy’ ” — into a pretty piano-ballad waltz. The title cut also brings out the keyboard, closing the album on an elegantly mellow mood.

But just because The Hip have moved forward doesn’t mean they’ve left old fans in the lurch. There are no shortage of moody guitar-driven rockers here, from the alternately jangly and chunky opener Yer Not the Ocean to the slow-burning blues-boogie The Drop-Off and the chugging Family Band (which has another lyrical bon mot: “One day I’ll make some honest rock ‘n’ roll, full of handclaps and gang vocals”). And for all its sonic detours, the disc still delivers plenty of crunching guitar interplay and taut, rock-solid grooves — topped, of course, with Downie’s poetic political allegories and nervous yelp.

Which is to say: It covers enough familiar turf to rock your world, along with enough changes of scenery to make for an interesting journey.

Track Listing:

1. Yer Not the Ocean
2. The Lonely End of the Rink
3. In View
4. Fly
5. Luv(sic)
6. The Kids Don’t Get It
7. Pretend
8. Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me
9. The Drop Off
10. Family Band
11. World Container