The Tragically Hip - "In View"

For the past 20 years American audiences have almost universally ignored Canadian stalwarts The Tragically Hip. It doesn’t matter that in their home country the Hip regularly sell-out arenas, have sold millions of records, and are considered nothing short of a national treasure. Since 1987 the Hip have been releasing albums roughly every 2 years, and very recently released their 11th studio effort, World Container. Predictably the disc adds 11 more solid, workmanlike rock songs to the band’s back catalog, and once again shows Gordon Downie to be a consistently engaging songwriter. And predictably the album was largely ignored south of the border upon its release.

World Container was produced by Bob Rock, the same man that famously led Metallica to the mainstream in the early nineties with the Black Album, and in doing so turned off most of their long-time fans. On this album he has reined the band in, focusing more attention to the twin-guitar approach of Rob Baker and Paul Langlois. During the album’s recording he also approached an open-minded Downie about trying to write in a more straightforward manner, to ditch his sometimes wordy, opaque style in favor of something immediate. His vocals are right up front in World Container’s mix, adding to the tighter, slicker sound the record encompasses, and displaying a lyrical directness missing since the early days of story-songs about drowned hockey players and killer-whale tanks.

The Hip have never been known as a band that reinvents their wheel. They know what their fans expect and give it to them album after album. There has hardly been an effort to change their sound or style since 1998’s Phantom Power, and admittedly this has caused my own interest in the band to wan over the years. The past few albums were solid, if not all that exciting, retreads of older sounds, rarely incorporating anything but the already familiar.

World Container does however offer some interesting moments that I’ve never heard come out of a Tragically Hip recording. This is most especially true for the first single, “In View”. It’s the first real attempt at a pop song in the band’s long history, and surprisingly, is wildly successful. The keyboard/acoustic guitar driven song is hyper-melodic in a mercurial way , sounding more like The Cure’s “Inbetween Days” or the beginning of Wilco’s “Pot Kettle Black” than themselves. It is the result of a band finally letting go of expectations and taking a chance on a sound that may disappoint hardened fans, (similar to the Black Album), but instantly revitalizes the Hip as a vital, engaging, seasoned act.

MP3 :: In View
(from World Container)

And check out the video:


Visit the Tragically Hip’s website (where World Container is streaming) and myspace.

Purchase World Container through Amazon.


EDW said...

I love the Hip. Can't wait to see them in NYC!

James said...

Thanks for checking in EDW. I haven't seen them live since 2000 at a bar on Long Island (Mulcahey's), so I'm looking forward to the NY show too.