Volume 94, Issue 99
Tuesday, March 27, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Disc of the Week
Coke Machine Glow
The Tragically Hip are unequivocally one of the best rock and roll bands in Canadian history and there's little doubt a lot of the credit for their success can be attributed to frontman Gordon Downie.
Yet it's puzzling that a lyrical genius and rock and roll superstar like Downie could create something so odd, bizarre and unappealing, but such is the case with his latest project, Coke Machine Glow.
If you're expecting a record that is an extension of The Tragically Hip, you will be sorely disappointed. Downie's new album is full of tracks that feature instruments like xylophones, tubas and accordions, all foreign to his previous work. That's not to say the album is poorly composed merely because he added these embellishments, but they do seem awkward and inappropriate.
The first "song" on the album, "Starpainters," features an accordion playing lead while Downie reads one of his poems in the background. Adding to the collection of misplaced spoken words are "Mystery" and "Insomniacs Of The World, Good Night." These all seem curiously out of place on an album and perhaps more fit for a reading at the public library.
Possibly the least appealing poem on the CD is "Nothing But Heartache In Your Social Life," in which a classical guitar takes centre-stage while Downie recites another of his poems over what seems to be a megaphone or public address system.
Begining with solid guitar and more classic Downie vocals, "Canada Geese" seems like a change for the better. However, when the chorus kicks in, the lyrics become completely unrelateable. Downie tries unpleasantly to hit some high notes before the song concludes with a jam that sounds more like a group of random musicians testing out new instruments.
However, the track "Vancouver Divorce" is something of a diamond in the rough. The drums are excellent, the guitar is smooth and Downie's vocals are soothing.
Coke Machine Glow was one of the most anticipated albums of the year, but it's a big disappointment. Hopefully, Downie has gotten the solo bug out of his system so he can return to his prominent position atop the best rock band Canada has to offer.
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