I have never been able to pin down why the Tragically Hip, an enormously popular band at home in Canada, hasnt enjoyed the same level of success here in the US. Their newest disc, World Container, has been available up North since November, but isnt scheduled for release in the US until this month. Theres nothing regional about the Hip -- this is a world class rocknroll band. Moreover, while many of their more popular contemporaries (e.g., REM and Pearl Jam) have become stagnant or confused about what direction to take, the Hip still sounds tough and determined.
World Container is the bands 11th disc, and producer Bob Rock has given it a more spacious sound than usual. You can clearly hear the complex interplay between guitarists Rob Baker and Paul Langlois, but Rock has not sacrificed the bite and roar of the band's playing. Rock also helps the Hip try some new things. "Pretend" is a gentle, beautiful ballad, with the guitarists providing quiet support for guest Jamie Edwards on piano, and "In View" includes keyboard lines by Edwards that help pull the song together. The Hip have rarely introduced so many unusual elements into their songs, and Rock has obviously encouraged them to flesh things out and use the recording studio to full advantage.
The songs on World Container are some of the best the band members have written, and its probably the strongest Hip disc since Trouble at the Henhouse. The band will be opening for the Who on a few dates in the US, and it would be just if that helped gain the following in the US that the Tragically Hip deserves.
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