Like Sloan, the Tragically Hip's massive success in Canada and anonymity here is more vexing than Alanis and Celine's popularity here -- and that's saying something! Like Sloan, the Hip have a rich, arena-ready sound that captures the power-pop punch of Cheap Trick. But unlike the Beatles-inflected Sloansters, the Hip have an offbeat melodicism that's more in keeping with Presidents of the USA or They Might Be Giants. What's more, they write great songs with meaningful subjects. The new album, In Between Evolution, is one of the best, with a crisp, mid-tempo attack that's radio-friendly without being insipid. The lyrics are particularly incisive, from "Gus: Polar Bear From Central Park," about a bear out to destroy anything that scares it (hmm, what country does that sound like?), to "It Can't Be Nashville Every Night," which assails Toby Keith-ish ethnocentric jingoism.
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