(...with reminders of how extremely good it is!)
My Second Album Review: World Container
It will be written: in 2006, Gord Downie discovered melody. And heart. And Bob Rock didn't put up with overintelligent lyrical obfuscation. And the band kicked it as usual - with piano!
The Tragically Hip are the only band I'll stoop to review; here's my nonsensical track-by-track analysis of World Container - possibly the third best Hip album ever behind Road Apples and Fully Completely. It is surely Gord's best vocal performance to date.
1. Yer Not the Ocean: Gord loves nature - but hates Stephen Harper. Harper's a piddling puddle, he's no Atlantic. Look beyond politics and this is a rebuke to mankind (yes, one of those species-wide rebukes): "I'm standing on my toes" and "[you] can get out of your own way" are references to evolution. Ie for all our advances the water is still above our heads. Kim Jong Il (evolution's finest product) should listen to this one. Oceans can take only so much crap.
2. Lonely End of The Rink: Song-about-Bill-Barilko-who? Song-about-Bobby-Orr-what? This track officially replaces the national anthem, the Hockey Night in Canada theme, as well as every Tim Horton's ad in existence. A classic 'story song' for goalies, who according to GD play "the noblest position in professional sport." 'Lonely' is inspired by Gord's dad, a former travelling salesman with 5 kids who nonetheless managed to watch young Gordie play net as a kid - showing up halfway through a game, watch Gord make a few key saves, and then vanishing. All I can say is - sweet smokin shitbricks! Don't get shredded by the opening guitars.
3. In View: A love song, the antidote to Harper. Also the best song about cell phone paranoia (and call display) ever recorded. The melodies shine out for the first time; finally, a Hip song we can hum!
4. Fly: This is untapped potential, the urge to realize dreams; also about Gord finally tapping into his heart with his songwriting: "something deep inside saying - 'Where you been all my life'." Also about talented and well-educated immigrants who come to Canada and then get shafted into "pushing the broom," doing work far beneath them. The coastline of Canada beckons like 'a pair of glowing thighs' but many immigrants end up cheated. Fly fly fly. Lots of choruses. Fly 'Air-World Container', yes.
5. Luv(sic): a pun in the title! Another song about airplane sickness aka soggy puke. I mean, love. "Words I carry in my heart?" - but hadn't the courage to say, for fear of succumbing to soggy cliche. Can the Hip grapple with Cupid - without becoming... Stupid? Is Love the only virtue there is? The Hip sound convinced.
6. The Kids Don't Get It: About how hard being as awesome as the Hip is; how hard defining Canada for all the clueless Canadians is. This is about how if humans don't cut back on CO-2 emissions Ma Nature's gonna deprive us our high-horsepower engines, kick our asses back to the Paleozoic and devolve us into whiny paramecium. Er, yeah. Anyway - some quite capital screeching here!
7. Pretend: I could 'pretend' this isn't another heart-filled love song - but I'd be lying. The keyboards are a huge departure. What's next - a random rant about lovesick Killer Whales?
8. Last Night I Dreamed You Didn't Love Me: About 'old school' Hip fans who don't like the new stuff, especially departures like the previous track. Also about two minutes too long - the only song on W.C. I don't really like. The irony. Flush it down the World Container!
9. Dropoff: Some bands are afraid to experiment. The Hip are NOT such a band - and it can be scary. To experiment that is. Fans don't want change. Even Bob Dylan got/gets heckled - and he's a narrowness-bestriding colossus. Has the word 'iridescent'. Spurts of machine-gun lyrics recall '100th Meridian'. Some verses remind me of Georgian Bay. I love Ontario.
10. Family Band: holy crap - I'm hemorrhaging from my incredulous forehead. 'Family Band' is possibly the best Hip song ever. Possibly the best Hip song ever. Unfortunately... bad title. I prefer "Rock the Universe - Hardcore" or "The Day the Earth Exploded" because that's exactly what happened here. FB is an FU to Kim Jong-Il, Harper and all their jabronies, and a big thumbs up to all that's incorruptible like James Brown, Elvis Presley, shiny Lamborghinis and quality street meat (?). Climaxes with a scorching mid-song pause + hypermetal reignition which make all of 'Little Bones' seem like a stupid accident.
11. World Container: This is all Bob Rock; a complete killer-whales departure with keys and a rollercoaster melody - Gord vocal's the equivalent of a trapeze acrobat. Lyrically, I suspect it's about Kim Jong-Il or Stephen Harper -"the one who couldn't imagine all the people [Canada] living life in peace" or maybe Gord's on about fickle fans again: "The good news is that you're smaller/the bad news is you can be smaller than that." Or maybe it's about how vast the sky is. Whatever, it's instantly likeable and makes me cry. Or laugh. "Laugh and laugh till yer told 'please dont come back'." Please come back!
Down with Harper, up with bodies of water. 'Save the Planet' and don't Contain the World. Five stars!