A smooth mix of political and personal, sincere and satirical.
Keira Burgess 2009-06-22
Kingston quintet The Tragically Hip have been a mainstay on the Canadian music scene for some 20 plus years. Their collective mantle is bedecked with 14 Junos, they have a home in their native Music Hall of Fame and eight of their ten albums went straight to number one. This, their eleventh, may as well be their first for the majority of us Brits, as unfamiliar as we are with their lyrically potent country rock.
Producer Bob Rock returned for his second project with The Hip; this time with a mind to pushing, and, if necessary, breaking down their creative extremities. The outcome was a last-minute writing spree and the addition to the album of four of its best tracks, including the cute Americana of Coffee Girl, the abstract anger of Frozen In My Tracks and epic six-minute political anthem Now The Struggle Has A Name. Love Is A First also wears the Rock effect in its electronic trickery, the producer successfully proving that country can work outside its comfort zones.
The Depression Suite, is, at nine and a half minutes, a marathon min-project in itself. Divided loosely into three contrasting sections, the track mixes musical tone and lyrical style brilliantly: the line “Bring on the requisite strangeness/ it always has to get a little weird” humorously showing The Hip’s implicit understanding of the artistic world they occupy.
The uplifting motif of closer Country Day has much in common with U2’s Sometimes You Can’t Make It On You Own, but the Bono effect can be overlooked in the midst of such a genuinely heart-warming performance.
We Are The Same is a smooth mix of political and personal, sincere and satirical. A good means of introduction to a largely untapped nation of potential fans.