The Canadian Press review “We Are The Same”

On 12th album, Tragically Hip flirt with new sounds while sounding like themselves

The Tragically Hip have always been blissfully out of step with the trends of the music industry.
So when Bob Rock signed on to guide the Tragically Hip’s 2006 album, “World Container,” fans fretted that the pop-minded producer would smooth away the subtle, literate side of the band in favour of arena-friendly fare.

That worrying was needless, as it turned out – the band’s Hip-ness endured for another compelling collection of tunes.

Rock returns for the Hip’s latest, “We Are the Same,” a sombre, grounded set that showcases a band that seems even less interested in scoring a radio hit.

The album’s title would seem to refer to the everyman focus of frontman Gord Downie’s lyrics. “The Depression Suite” is a three-part examination of characters plugging away in menial jobs, while “Coffee Girl” tells the story of a “beautiful and disaffected” employee at a java shop.

“Hangover hanging on by the fangs, walk to work on wild feet,” Downie sings. “Get to the back door, look around then turn the key.”

But if the record’s title is a reference to the all-for-one nature of Downie’s lyrics, it also seems a bit ironic given the record’s disjointed flow.

The first half of the album is composed of stately, country-inflected tunes while the tempo nudges up on the flip side with some distorted rockers that will seem right at home blaring out in hockey arenas.

“Now the Struggle Has a Name” and “The Depression Suite,” which clock in together at well over 15 minutes, comprise the album’s turning point but also its saggy, momentum-killing midsection.

The album suffers when it finds the Hip straying too far from their comfort zone. Strings are uncharacteristically prominent here, with the production occasionally swelling to levels of Coldplay-like grandeur, while the blazing guitar solos in “Queen of the Furrow’s” and “Speed River” feel likewise overblown.
Such broad strokes have never really suited the Tragically Hip, and it’s the album’s smaller moments that truly resonate.

“The Last Recluse” is a highlight, with Downie delicately crooning above the accompanying acoustic guitar and organ, “Coffee Girl” is sprightly yet nostalgic, while “Love is a First” promises to be a live favourite with its fist-pumping chorus and stream-of-consciousness spoken-word section.

On “Frozen in My Tracks,” Downie imagines “the day you take me for granted.” Yet his band seems to have discovered a winning formula. Even on their 12th album, the Hip continue to flirt with new sounds while sounding precisely like themselves.

“We Are the Same”
Tragically Hip (Universal)
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

The Tragically Hip Meditate on A “Morning Moon”

The sun’s a lightbulb, and the moon is a mirror.

That explanation of why the moon is visible even after the sun has come up is the jumping-off point for The Tragically Hip’s meditation on our intimate relationships, “Morning Moon,” from their forthcoming album ‘We Are The Same’ (Rounder/April 7). The first single from their new album, it will go to radio March 23rd.

Listen to the song here:

Says Hip frontman Downie, “the inspiration for the song was a question from one of my kids, ‘why can you still see the moon in the morning once the sky has turned blue?’ Kids ask these kinds of innocent things, but you have to be ready with an answer, you have to stay a step ahead of them.

“That’s really the theme of the record: me and you; him and her; the little things that we say to each other each day, and even the things we withhold. Our thoughts dwell on the people in our lives a lot more than we admit; we’re always trying to relate, to make a connection. That’s what this album is about.”

The Tragically Hip kick off a 12-city U.S. tour May 7th in Philadelphia in support of ‘We Are The Same.’

The Edmonton Sun reviews “We Are The Same”

We Are The Same
Rating: 3 out of 5

Yes they are. And no they aren’t.

The title of The Tragically Hip’s 11th studio album suggests the Kingston Can-Rock veterans haven’t changed a bit. That’s true — in terms of their lineup, anyway. Singer Gord Downie, guitarists Paul Langlois and Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay are all present and accounted for once again.

The songs, however, have not remained the same. This earthy 12-song disc actually marks something of a departure from the band’s dependable trademark mix of arena-rock muscle and indie-rock quirk. Despite being helmed once again by superstar producer Bob Rock, this is a moodier, rootsier, quieter and prettier affair than usual, with slower songs, more acoustic guitars and plenty of strings. Heck, Downie even reins in his anxious yelp and outpatient ranting most of the time in favour of more personal lyrics and a more intimate delivery.

Whether they’ve strayed too far from their fans’ comfort zone remains to be seen. But whatever happens, you have to give them some credit for not just dishing out the same-old same-old.

For the rest of the review, and a track-by-track commentary, visit The Edmonton Sun.

The Buffalo News reviews “We Are The Same”

Please visit The Buffalo News to read the complete review.

Ãœber Hip
By Jeff Miers
The Buffalo News
4 out of 4 stars

Dear, sweet music. You loved her once, a long time ago.

You whispered sweet nothings in her ear, courted her with chivalry, promised Paris but delivered a suburb in Podunk, grew lazy and inattentive, cultivated a beer belly, left her at home while you went off chasing the newest, glitzy young thing with your equally loyalty-challenged buddies. You will not have the right to claim hurtful surprise when she finally ups and leaves you. You had it coming.

If it’s the truth that we have marked this moment in the “everyone can do it, anywhere, at any time” phase of music’s creation and dissemination with a failure to place any real cultural value on the music itself, then it would logically follow that the artists will fall into line and dutifully churn out music that doesn’t matter.

Most have done exactly this, and who can blame them? Times are tough, and hedging one’s bets isn’t exactly a radical approach these days.

The Tragically Hip, however, have opted for the oftnamechecked, but rarely chosen “path less traveled.” The Canadian band’s 12th studio album, “We Are the Same,” is its most ambitious, detail-oriented and cleanly rendered effort to date. In an era when plowing the same furrow ad infinitum has been elevated to a virtue, the Hip has instead built with its own hands a gorgeous, fragile crystal city and placed it at the top of a wind-swept hill. There it sits, shimmering, naked to the elements, but unafraid.

The band has reinvented itself. We had no right to expect as much.

All of this is achieved without you really noticing it, until about the third time through the record, when you realize that it now owns your soul, like it or not. (And I suspect a good many Hip fans won’t; this is music to dream to, not drink beer to, no offense to anyone intended. There are really beautiful string arrangements going on, sparse orchestration in service of a storyteller’s volition. How will it play in arenas? Powerfully, I expect, but only if the listener accepts change and growth as both good and necessary.)

Atop all of this, Downie delivers his finest lyrics and strongest vocal melodies yet. The seeds of these were planted back in “Ahead By A Century,” sprouted over the years into “Bobcaygeon,” “It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken,” “World Container’s” title song, and now, come fully into bloom with “Now the Struggle Has A Name,” quite possibly the strongest, most viscerally imaginative and imagistic song in the Hip canon.

With a band at the peak of its collective power roiling beneath him, Downie’s lyrics are simultaneously felt and heard. There is now no separation between form and content.

“We Are the Same” is like a love letter, one that begins Dear, sweet music…

“We Are The Same” on vinyl

According to, “We Are The Same” will be released as a Limited Edition, high quality, double LP, with gatefold cover! As a bonus, each vinyl copy includes a coupon to download all of the album’s tracks as mp3s.

You can pre-order the album now through The Giftshop

If you prefer to pick up your copy at a retail outlet, check select stores starting April 7.

“We Are The Same” iTunes Canada Pre-sale with bonus

We Are The SameStarting Friday, February 27th, through iTunes Canada, We Are The Same can be pre-ordered.

All purchasers will receive the full album on Tuesday, April 7th. The pre-order version also comes with an exclusive bonus track, ‘Hush‘. Just when you thought this news could not get any better, when you purchase the album, you will also receive an Instant Gratification Gift from iTunes. At time of purchase, ‘Love Is A First’, will be downloaded into your iTunes player for your listening pleasure.

Alternatively, Love Is A First can be purchased on it’s own right now.

Stay tuned to and your inboxes for the next wave of exciting news on Monday morning, including more album pre-sale options.