With Fully Completely, The Hip took their gritty blues influenced rock sound that had them placed among the top of the Canadian music scene and elaborated, creating a more atmospheric, art rock feel along side with their traditional roots. With albums like ‘Up To Here’ and ‘Road Apples’ to their name, The Tragically Hip were one of the bigger names in Canada, yet received little attention outside. Often regarded as one of, if not their finest, most encompassing album, Fully Completely is an essential, symbolic record with more than half of the album still getting regular play on the air today.
Produced by Chris Tsangarides (who’s worked with Depeche Mode, Killing Joke), Fully Completely showcases the band at its best. Gord Downie and crew have all improved significantly on their already impressive assets with Downie’s lyrics still having that close to home feel. As mentioned, Fully Completely is somewhat different from their first two albums. Not necessarily in the sense of song writing or overall sound drastically, but takes a more melodious, mid tempo, but steady tone for much of it]. But of course there is the driving, upbeat tunes as well. Although many of the tracks (namely Courage, Fifty-Mission Cap Wheat Kings) can be identified by those not even owning the record, the album never gets tired and despite the popular songs, sounds vivid with listen.
The Hip’s lyrics are one of their strongest attributes. Downie’s knowledge of history, love of hockey and art, his poetic abilities and observational, abstract lyrics all come into effect on ‘Fully Completely’. Fifty-Mission Cap
tells the true story of Bill Barilko; defensemen for the Toronto Maple Leafs who scored the winning goal in the 1951 Stanley Cup Playoffs only to vanish that summer on a fishing trip. His body remained missing until 1962, the next time the Leafs won the cup. Wheat Kings
references the story about David Milgaard who was wrongly sentenced to life in prison at the age of 16 in 1970. Pigeon Camera
is literally about cameras that were put on pigeons as a form of aerial observation during World War One. Locked in the Trunk of a Car
is a frantic, intense song both musically and lyrically, written from the point of view of a serial killer with lyrics like “Then, I found a place its dark and it's rotted; It's a cool, sweet kinda-place where the copters won't spot it and I destroyed the map, I even thought I forgot it, however, every day I'm dumping the body”. And starting the record is a great tribute to the Canadian author Hugh MacLennan in Courage
‘Fully Completely’ has all the elements required for a full grade is one of the best albums of the 90’s that is not only an excellent representative of the band but an essential album within the genre. Mixing different styles like the sleek, driving rock sound to acoustic to alt rock and pop, The Hip really reached their peak with this record and would only build on it with 1994’s ‘Day for Night’. And though this might never get the attention it deserves south of the border and the lyrics may not be entirely relatable to non-Canucks, this album can be appreciated by any fan of rock.
At The Hundredth Meridian