Album Review: The Tragically Hip’s ‘In Between Evolution’

Laura Hadden and Laura Hadden

Aging Canadian rock gods The Tragically Hip attempt to return to their roots in their latest album “In Between Evolution.” But the album suggests the band hasn’t evolved in any positive sense of the word from its artistic heights it reached in the early ’90s.

The album is generally uninspired, but with song titles including “Gus: The Polar Bear from Central Park,” it’s not as if they aren’t trying.

“The Hip,” as they are known to their fans, are usually heralded for their thoughtful lyrics as their musical prowess, but again they seem to come up short on this album.

In “Vaccination Scar” lead singer Gordon Downie croons “The mystery’s met, the sky looks threatened heading home in the dust / singing ‘Life Is Forgetting’, good enough for the frivolous.” Poetic? Perhaps, if you consider a sentence of seemingly random words strung together poetic.

The rare gems of the album include the hypnotizing “Are We Family” and “It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night.” The first takes the band’s standard fast-paced style down a notch, but otherwise the album is plagued with downright sloppy vocals and forgettable tunes. During “It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night,” it seems that the band might briefly be finding its comfort zone of yore, but that moment quickly passes.

“In Between Evolution” seems to lack the musical focus mastered in previous albums and sounds more like the debut album of a college band than the polished 10th studio album of rock veterans.

This album bears little resemblance to the Hip’s earlier, better work and will leave fans wondering whether The Tragically Hip may be reaching the end of their musical careers.