4 of 4 thought this review was well written
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 evolved from it, 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 no longer strangers to Canada but still not gaining much recognition elsewhere, but it didn’t really matter. The Hip reached their peak in the fall of 1992 with their third album ‘Fully Completely’. Not only regarded as one of, if not their finest and most complete album, but an essential, symbolic record with more than half of the album still getting regular play on the air waves today.
Produced by Chris Tsangarides (who’s worked with Depeche Mode, Killing Joke), the sound seemed to capture just enough of their raw, unrefined rock n roll but with a clean, fresh twist and a hint of obscurity that compliments the bands sound greatly. 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, like Wheat Kings
and Pigeon Camera
. But of course there is the raging energy displayed on The Wherewithal
and the frenzied intensity on Locked in the Trunk of a Car
. And 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 each play.
Maybe because of growing up hearing the album from such a young age either on a camping trip up north or watching the hockey game, its personal attachment to me and much if its fans go beyond the actual instruments, but even re-listening to it years later it’s no surprise to me it gained the initial attention it did as nearly every song is crafted perfectly with exceptional skill and passion. ‘Fully Completely’ is full of many moods and tempos, much like they have done before, but here they expand and improve. Wheat Kings
is a beautiful, gentle acoustic song (very similar to Fiddler’s Green from ‘Road Apples’) while Pigeon Camera
is a laid back, atmospheric mid tempo tune with a tranquil guitar solo from Rob Baker highlighting. The title track and Locked in the Trunk of a Car
possess some of Downie’s frantic howls while containing some chugging riffs reminiscent of the bands earlier days. Courage
, one of the bands best tunes, is a more upbeat song with catchy, poppy melodies and a sing a long chorus. Lionized
, the albums only possible weak spot, adds nothing new to the album but more positively solidifies the albums consistency and is by no means a skippable track.
The Hip’s lyrics are one of their strongest trademarks for a good reason. Downie’s knowledge of history (and not just Canada’s), love of hockey and art, his poetic abilities and observational, abstract lyrics all come into action 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 and then perished that summer on a fishing trip, his body remained missing until 1962, the next time the Leafs would win the cup. On the same note as history, Wheat Kings
references the story about David Milgaard of Saskatchewan 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 1, and failed most of the time. On a more unusual subject, Locked in the Trunk of a Car
is a frantic, intense song 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 creative potential with this record and would only build on 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