It's a cold and lonely place that The Tragically Hip inhabit. And that place is Canada, where all ten years of toil has brought them is the dubious accolade of being that country's most successful roc

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IT’S A COLD AND LONELY PLACE THAT The Tragically Hip inhabit. And that place is Canada, where all ten years of toil has brought them is the dubious accolade of being that country’s most successful rock band. And as any ‘solo lover’ will tell you: it’s no fun continually coming first in a field of one.

This, then, is the sound of vague ennui stretching across wide empty spaces, and a dream of becoming the Canuck REM. But whereas, after five albums, Michael Stipe was the world’s favourite slaphead, they are still wallowing in relative obscurity.

And an album of creaking, worthy white-collar rock isn’t going to change that. Gordon Downie seems convinced that his pained vocal style contains hidden poetic depths, but all his lyrics convey is an overwhelming desire to crawl back into the womb of a past where people didn’t laugh at them quite so much.

It gets worse; ‘Poets’ is boogie rock undergoing prostate problems, and ‘Fireworks’ is essentially Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer Of ’69’, but [I]boring[/I]. On ‘Vapour Trails’, meanwhile, they moan, [I]”There’s nothing uglier than a man hitting his stride”[/I].

Evidently they’ve never looked in the mirror and seen the desperate expressions of men trying to mean something outside of their own backyard.