The Hip hit factory we’ve come to know and love by this point is in fine form with this release. Are You Ready? kicks things off with a killer riff and a punching rhythm. Hot on its heels are ‘Use It Up’ and The Darkest One, two more stunning tracks of pure rock. Follow this with the absolute glory that is It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken and we’re already at more great songs than most lesser bands can manage to wedge between the filler on their own records. But our heroes aren’t even close to finished with us yet, no sir…
Silver Jet, another classic Hip rock track, is up next, pushing the energy back upward, before settling things back into the mid-tempo musings of Throwing Off Glass. But the respite is short. All Tore Up’s fresh blast gets us off and running again, only to pull us back so we can shuffle along with the infectious Leave. The acoustic guitars finally come out with A Beautiful Thing (and it is, folks, it is). The song is quirky and unique, a testimony to the band’s unending creativity at this stage in their career. The Dire Wolf draws us in close and tells us a story of ourselves, this country, this life as it slowly builds to a wonderful climax. And album closer The Dark Canuck, at six and a half minutes, may well be the best track here, and that’s saying a lot. It’s two songs in one, shifting mid-song from a country-tinged oration into a completely tasty, heavier riff that is better than anything other bands of this time period could dream up. By the time it rolls us out on a fading drum sound, we’re left exhausted, sure, but satisfied, fulfilled.
Musically, this album is a stellar effort. This group of musicians has something so special together, able to take ideas and transform them into full and rich songs that sound new, and yet still sound undeniably like the Hip. And Gordie, by now, is as much singer as poet, the line long ago blurred and forgotten. Ya gotta love it.
This is a perfectly realized, undeniably brilliant record on par with anything the band has ever done. If this were your first taste of the Hip, you would be so impressed and amazed you’d run right out and buy everything else and never look back. Having been a fan for as long as I have, it’s dangerously easy to slip and take these tracks for granted. That’s why it’s good to step back every now and then, remind ourselves just how lucky we are to have this band in our lives.