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Now For Plan A (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

The Tragically Hip come from a long line of bands that began as arena-rock-in-my-basement garage outfits, and actually soldiered on to make music worthy of achieving that aspiration. While it's true that 2004's In Between Evolution and the lackluster We Are the Same were missteps because they were squarely aimed at the ever elusive mainstream, Now for Plan A, the Hip's 13th long-player, produced by Gavin Brown, moves them back to their square, toward the immediacy of their earlier records. Its 11 tracks deliver a varied, mostly uptempo, solid sonic ride that combines big-budget rock & roll production with more basic elements of urgency, impulsiveness, and humor. The first notes of opener "At Transformation" come from Gord Sinclair's fuzzed-out bassline on stun; they're answered immediately by Paul Langlois' and Rob Baker's guitar squall and Johnny Fay's popping snare and bass drum. Gord Downie's part-warbled, -sung, -snarled lyrics lay out a simple truth: "I want to be kind not a bullet in the right place..." He knows it's only a dream, based on a limited perception of the "game" of life. With its churning, frenetic pace, the music confronts him with it, but he just beats his head against it, anyway. No surrender. "Streets Ahead" contrasts jangling and distorted guitars, and drives head on into an anthemic melody that's as urgent as punk rock and as catchy as a power pop song. It lifts off and keeps going. "We Want to Be It" initially sounds like a send-up of John Waite's "Missing You," but Downie and company turn it on its head to make it one of the most self-lacerating, broken love songs of the 2010s. Sara Harmer guests on the title track and "The Lookahead." The former commences with an infectious pop hook and gathers in intensity and drama until it nearly goes off the rails. The latter is a languid, drifting meditation on love and commitment that feels rather unfocused. The second half of the record contains its own share of hyperkinetic rockers in "The Modern Spirit" and "Take Forever." "About This Map" and "Done and Done" commence with 4/4 drum kit shuffles before they spread out into atmospheric exercises in rock balladry with varying degrees of success. Now for Plan A ably demonstrates that the Tragically Hip still have it whenever they want it. While there are moments of self-indulgence, they are far from deal breakers.

Customer Reviews

It's an Evolution

Yes, this album is different from what you're probably expecting but I'd like to thank The Tragically Hip for challenging us to evolve our musical experience just as they did with We Are The Same which is now one of my all time favourite albums. We Are The Same hits you on an emotional level that you've probably never experienced from The Hip before just as this one is likely to do over time.

I'm a loyal, diehard Hip fan and they will likely never release an album I will not buy without hesitation or second thought and I'm sure many others will do the same. Perhaps knowing this is why they like to challenge us as fans and appreciators of the art of music to broaden our horizons. It's presumptuous to think but maybe our devotion in turn gives them the opportunity to try new things and grow as musicians knowing they have such loyal support.

Not too too bad

I will get it because I'm a hip fan but this album isn't too bad. Nothing to complain about but nothing to write home about eaither

Disappointed

I've been a fan since 91. Still hanging on for the great follow up to the amazing albums from the self debuted album to Day For Night. Even though Trouble, Phantom and In Violet light were pretty good. I gotta say I'm very disappointed in the new one. Oh well there's always the next one in two years. You know what we like Hip so please just give the fans what they want and are still desperately waiting for. I still love The Hip though and always will. What can I say...I'm a sucker for a great Canadian band.

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

While hugely popular in their native Canada, the Tragically Hip found the global charts continually resistant to their blues-influenced pop fare. Formed in 1983 in Kingston, Ontario, the band included comprised childhood friends Gordon Downie (vocals), Bobby Baker (guitar), Paul Langlois (guitar), Gord Sinclair (bass), and Johnny Fay (drums). The bandmembers took their name from a Michael Nesmith video entitled Elephant Parts, and focused on making a name for themselves on the local scene during...
Full bio
Now For Plan A (Deluxe Edition), The Tragically Hip
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