In Violet Light

The Tragically Hip | Rounder

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Long revered in their native Canada, the Tragically Hip have never gotten their propers in the states. A gloomier alternative to R.E.M., the quintet boasts a charismatic front man in Gordon Downie, with his haunted, film-noir voice. Through intricate lyrics — name-dropping the likes of Raymond Carver and Robert Lowell — Downie reveals himself to be a tangle of competing impulses. But the real payoff comes from the physical jolt of the music. Amid churning guitars and a clattering rhythm section, the Hip recount “a blowout of wicked proportions” on “All Tore-Up.” In any light, violet or otherwise, these hipsters are worth another look.

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