THE TRAGICALLY HIP
Three Stars out of Four
World Container (Universal)
Refine the tried-and-true or reinvent the wheel? That question has dogged every Hip album since 1998’s Phantom Power, the band often struggling to agree on a direction. World Container sees them take another few steps forward and a few back. Despite pairing them with producer Bob Rock, it’s not the set of radio-ready rockers one might’ve expected. Instead it’s split between fairly standard fare (the opener “Yer Not the Ocean,” the Road Apples throwback “The Drop-Off”), sudden blasts of exuberance (the single “In View,” the even better “Family Band”), orchestral-rock overkill (the title track) and a few stabs at hoser-fied reggae-punk (“The Lonely End of the Rink,” “The Kids Don’t Get It”). Included in the latter, the declaration “I’ll be the antlers and I’ll be the elk” belongs on any fan’s list of favourite Downie-isms. Though most old-timers will be happy that what isn’t broken doesn’t get fixed, World Container’s best moments suggest that the Hip are overdue for a more comprehensive overhaul. JASON ANDERSON
THE TRAGICALLY HIP PLAY THE PHOENIX (410 SHERBOURNE) OCT 22-23, 25-26.