Release Date: October 2006
I don’t think there is any music you can listen to (save “Oh Canada”) that makes you feel like more of a Canuck than The Tragically Hip. Since their inception in 1993 this band of five indie Ontarians has been synonymous with the Canadian music scene, and whether you tend toward heavy metal, classical or mainstream music, bets are that you haven’t managed to escape the tell-tale sound of Gordon Downie on the microphone.
I haven’t listened to a Hip album since I brought home Phantom Power in 1998; a set of songs that included the much loved “Poets” and “Bobcaygeon.” World Container is the fourth release from The Hip since then, and as far as I’m concerned nothing has changed with this bunch. The thing with this band is that no matter what your musical preference, they will always hold a place in your heart, particularly if you happen to live far away from home. During the Live-8 concert footage I held my breath every time the network swept to Barrie, Ontario to see who was playing; The Tragically Hip were one band I was looking out for. Why? It’s simple ? it’s a clearly home-town band that makes expatriates feel fleetingly connected to home. In fact, the Hip’s low album sales in the U.S. can be attributed almost fully to displaced Canadians; this says something both about the effects of homesickness and about the quality of the band. I and many expats listen to The Hip purely for the feeling of some immaterial and comfortingly thing called ‘Canada’, and not so much for the fact that we love their sound.
This said, of course, these guys have built a very loyal fan base within Canada comprised basically of your general Indie appreciator, of which there are many from B.C. to Nova Scotia. It’s a commodity that a whole lot of Canadians love, but I haven’t been able to really absorb much from World Container other than the primary ‘home!’ instinct.
The album gets off to a good start with “Yer Not the Ocean”, a pleasing little take on odd relationship fundamentals that immediately reminds the listener of all that is The Hip. The regional vernacular, confident playing and vocals make this the perfect first track to foster interest, but sadly the album immediately tapers off starting with track two; “The Lonely End of the Rink.” From here on out the songs just get plain annoying for anyone who doesn’t have ears tuned permanently to the Indie setting. The lyrics have their appeal ? who doesn’t enjoy a song about hockey or Moonbeams Ontari-ari-o? In itself, the album makes sense in its flow but the overall impression is a feeling of maintaining. No musical changes have been made in the last few years of recording, no real differences are apparent in any way from past albums, and in this respect The Tragically Hip have maintained their status and surely pleased their true fans ? those who don’t just put on “Poets” every now and then to feel nostalgic. It should probably be the title of their next album: Maintain. It’s just what they do.