FFWDWeekly.com – November 2, 2006
THE TRAGICALLY HIP
For their 11th album Canadaâ€™s national heroes team up with Ã¼ber-producer Bob Rock.
When Bob Rock produced Metallicaâ€™s self-titled black album, there were cries of sell-out from the fans. Now that heâ€™s at the boards for World Container, could there be a similar backlash for The Tragically Hip?
One listen to the lead-off single “In View” reveals the most optimistic track the Hip have laid down since “Fireworks.” The album kicks off with the power-pop crunch of “Yer Not the Ocean,” and closes with the title track, a sentimental piano ballad. It sounds like Rock is intent on breaking the Hip in the States, despite years of flying under the American radar.
Donâ€™t worry, World Container still feels like a Hip album â€“ itâ€™s steeped in Canadian geographic references, nods to hockey and an overwhelming tension â€“ itâ€™s just dressed up with a lot of studio finery. For the first time ever, drummer Johnny Fay plays rim shots, Bobby Bakerâ€™s guitar is drenched in echo and more than once the Hip tap into ska, flamenco and dance-rock variations for the break down.
Lyrically Gord Downie has branched out, too. Some of his poetry is downright syrupy on the page (“Love (Sic)” and “Last Night I Dreamed You Didnâ€™t Love Me” being the prime examples). Much of the record seems preoccupied with his relationship with his daughters, making for passionate delivery. Downieâ€™s voice has the gravitas to make it work and when he experiments with self-harmonies, the payoff is astounding. Lest you think heâ€™s gone soft, check out the stunning album standout “The Kids Donâ€™t Get It,” complete with gut-wrenching wail and boundless irony.
World Container may not have the consistency or impact of 2004â€™s In Between Evolution, but by pushing themselves (with or without Rockâ€™s influence) the Hip have made a record that shows remarkable growth, even for a band that has shed its bar band status. It doesnâ€™t always work, but World Container is fearless, angry, tender and engrossing, not to mention a great rock record.