The Tragically Hip We Are the Same

On their second straight album working with famed Metallica producer Bob Rock, the Tragically Hip have perversely written their gentlest and least dynamic record with We Are the Same. Since their inception, the Hip have honed an uncommon angst that balances subtlety masked as meat'n'potatoes rock'n'roll with one of the world's most gifted lyricists and singers. Over 11 albums, the marriage has rarely faltered, yet album number 12 meanders with what can only (shockingly) be described as a lack of conviction. Facetiousness aside, there's a sameness to the Hip's latest album that compromises their legendary passion as a musical force. Gordon Downie continues to lift his voice and conjure unusual hooks in songs like "Morning Moon" but there's not much elevating "Now the Struggle Has a Name" and "The Depression Suite," which, like much of the album, suffer from Rock being a tad string-happy. It's unclear who's exactly to blame, since the last Rock/Hip collaboration, World Container, worked so well, but something's different about We Are the Same. (Universal)