Sound: I have been a big Hip fan for a long time, (I even waited thirteen and a half hours to get the best spot when I went to see them live) so naturally the sound easily grew on me. Their music is basically fantastic and addicting sounds coupled with the best lyrics under the sun. This album is one of the very few albums in my collection that I can enjoyably listen to from start to finish. No skipable tracks on this album.
"Poets", the first track, is probably one of my favourite songs of all time and opens the album amazingly. Johnny Fay plays a drum beat and after a few bars Rob Baker comes in with one of the most spine tingling guitar riffs I can name. As the rest of the instruments kick in, so does Gord Downie, the lead singer. I especially like the bridge after the solo when it's just Gord Sinclair (bassist), the drums and vocals. A simple and catchy way to end the solo and come back into a verse.
Another notable track, in terms of sounds would be "Vapour Trails", the 8th track. Again they begin with Johnny Fay playing an interesting floor tom drum beat. As the verse progresses, the instruments slowly come together just in time for the chorus which, in my opinion, has a really catchy progression.
A third track that I will note is "Something On", the 2nd track. The song begins with a pretty catchy guitar riff with the drums following it. As the verse approaches, the instruments take a back seat as Gord D. sings. When the chorus comes though, The same guitar riff fits right in with the vocals. Also the bridge in this song really moves my musical soul. The Hip are really good at doing that to me, simply catching what I call my musical soul and squeezing it, just by their sound. // 7
Lyrics: In my opinion, Gord Downie is the best lyricist that I know of. His lyrics are a fantastic combo of history, personal experience, clever placement and just a tiny bit of nonsense to round it off.
A great song, lyrically, on this album would be, "The Rules" (The 9th track):
"Super farmer's bent on the cover of Time
The Moralists scream he's all mine
So the Bard isn't doing her job
The vacuum night the darkest rites
The small quarantined thoughts"
These lyrics are great conveyance of simple problems in the world that get to people, which we just deal with and live with.
Also "Bobcaygeon", the 4th and probably most successful track of the album is an amazing piece of poetry.
"Went back to bed this morning
And as I'm pulling down the blind
The sky was dull and hypothetical
And falling one cloud at a time
That night in Toronto with its checkerboard floors
Riding on horseback and keeping order restored
Till the men they couldn't hang
Stepped to the mic and sang
And their voices rang with that Aryan twang"
This song is about a simple long distance relationship, but the situation is so cleverly placed, you can really get a sense of what is being felt.
The final track, "Emperor Penguin" contains some tasty lyrics as well.
"Your voice is all detached on a radio wave breeze
We have another caller with a bachelor degree
Talkin' alien invasion is the only chance for unity
Well sorry to interrupt you caller
But that's a physical impossibility"
There are so many ways to perceive these lyrics, it's difficult to pin point one real message, but that's what makes the lyrics so good. Everyone gets their own mental image of the situation portrayed in the lyrics.
As for Gord's singing, I think he is an incredible singer with a low pitched range. What makes his voice so powerful is the effort you hear him put into every note he sings. He may not have the best sounding voice, but I would never pass someone off as a bad singer because of their tone, I personally love his voice. // 10
Overall Impression: I find this album very unique and I challenge you to find another one like it. My personal favourite songs on the album would be "Poets", "Bobcaygeon", "Something On", "Membership", "Fireworks" and "Vapour Trails". But like I said at the beginning, I love listening to all of the songs on the album. If it was lost or what ever I would definitely but another one, no questions asked. // 9