REVIEW: The Kansas City Blog on World Container

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The Tragically Hip: New Album Reviewed While Listening

I recently asked my friend, the humorist and Pitch assistant calendar editor Chris Packham, to go to this site, stream the new Tragically Hip album (bottom of the page, limited availablity) and let me know what he thought of it. I’ve been a fan of the Hip — arguably Canada’s biggest rock band — since I was a wee bairn, and yet few people I know have even heard of them. Their new one, World Container, came out earlier this year. Compared to other Hip albums, this one’s a bit overproduced and anthemic, trading the band’s usual nuanced style for booming pomp — just listen to all the times Gord Downie goes “yeah” and “that’s right” to punctuate his verses (especially on “Fly”). Blame it on producer Bob Rock for getting ’em all worked up. But there are some damn great songs, as always. As a result, it’s one of the best workout tapes of the year. But anyway, here’s Chris’ hilarious take.

Here is my review of World Container, by Tragically Hip. I have never listened to a Tragically Hip album, and am therefore COMPLETELY UNQUALIFIED to voice an opinion. I am totally typing and listening at the same time, so you’re getting my raw, unfiltered impressions. There are no swears, here, though.

1) Yer Not The Ocean

Pretty awesome song, with an excellent melody, nice breaks, some surprising background vocals as the song’s arc approaches a lush climactic finale. TEN POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR!

2) The Lonely End of the Rink

I like this song’s title better than the actual song itself. It’s as well-constructed and well-paced as that first track, but not as strongly melodic, which is the empirical basis upon which all songs should be judged. I call it the “Good Ship Lollipop” scale. This one scores, like, a four. Are all Tragically Hip songs as layered as these first two? They’re both pretty busy, with lots of instruments and sounds cutting in and out.

3) In View

“I love you! You know I do!” Oh, good. FINALLY, a song about ell-oh-vee-ee. “I’ve been meanin’ to call you, and I do. Phone rings once, phone rings twice, phone rings three times.” I am literally transcribing this song as it plays. It has turned me into a typist, this song. It’s definitely no “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud,” by William Wordsworth, is it? That goes,

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

However, you cannot dance to “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud,” whereas, “In View” by the Tragically Hip makes me want to go to the mall and try on different outfits in a quick-cut montage.

4) Fly

Bit of an anthem, isn’t it? Sky imagery, soaring chorus, etcetera. At first, I thought they were going to take it down a notch, but once the song really kicks into gear, it totally does not take it down a notch.

5) Luv (Sic)

Very clever title. Did you know that as far back as the tenth century, “lovesickness” was not just a literary convention, but was apparently considered to be an actual malady which could kill you? Like heroin withdrawal! Then the humoral model of physiology collapsed and took lovesickness with it. I should point out that the humoral model was the concept that the human body was governed by the balance of four bodily “humors.” It wasn’t some kind of Patch Adams clown-nose crap. This song and I don’t have any chemistry. It seems like we should totally like each other; we have common interests, but we’re just not clicking phermonally.

6) The Kids Don’t Get It

Gordon Downie’s sincere and assertive vocals become a love it/hate it proposition in this song. It’s like a challenge! I’m totally being challenged to like this song, but I am sadly unable to meet its high standards. Why is this song judging me?

7) Pretend

NOW they’re taking it down a notch. This song’s rhythm seems to have been deployed for the express purpose of eighth grade slow-dancing, where the couple holds each other at arm’s length, and shuffles back and forth while avoiding eye contact. And the title evokes the eighth grade slow-dancing convention of “pretending” that you are somewhere, anywhere else and the sincere hope that you will never again feel that awkward. Moving into the second half of the song, it’s almost like a disco ball has descended over my desk and filled my cube with little spinning sparklies. I am very nostalgic.

Lastnight I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me

Should be called “Lastnight (sic) I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me.” Just saying. I’m glad the song doesn’t go into any further details about its dream, because lordy do I hate listening to people tell me about the dream they had last night. Want to hear some other pet peeves of mine?

-Stickers on fruit
-“Wacky” outbound voicemail messages
-People who quote “Seinfeld”

“You kissed my fingers and you made me love you,” is, surprisingly, the actual hook, here. In my opinion, these lyrics would be funnier if he were singing about a hobo, or something, but funny is clearly not what he’s going for, here.

9) The Drop-Off
Angry growling guitars, ascending melody and vocals on the chorus. Nice percussive punctuation under the lyrics. Which I am admittedly paying no attention to, whatsoever. I was texting somebody through half of this track. It’s a good song, though. I’m going to listen to it again.

10) “Family Band”

I like this title because it reminds me of a TV show from a more innocent time. It also evokes showbiz parents who smack their kids around when they forget the lyrics or miss a note. The rhythm section has now completely recovered from the mid-album slow-tempo song, and we’re moving along a predictable arc to a climactic finish. PLEASE NOTE: This song has a totally fake ending, where the last note fades, followed by silence, followed by the musical equivalent of the alien queen impaling Bishop the android on her tail and attacking the kid, followed by Ripley (Gordon Downie) clomping out in a robotic suit. Fasten your seatbelt! It’s a real rollercoaster.

11) “World Container”

The eponymous album-ending track. “There’s a world container with your name on it, and a billion ways to go berserk.” Down-tempo intro with soulful piano followed by down-tempo verses and chorus with soulful piano. Did I mention the melodic? It totally brings the melodic to the melody table. On the other hand, it does not make me feel like going to the mall and trying on different outfits, which is the greatest feeling in the world.

— Chris Packham
Category: CD Reviews