Battle of the Nudes
First Appeared at The Music Box, August 2003, Volume 10, #8
Written by John Metzger
Battle of the Nudes, Gordon Downieís sophomore solo release, isnít likely to win him any new fans, but it is apt to please followers of The Tragically Hip a lot more than Coke Machine Glow did. It seems odd that Downie would feel constrained by his group; after all, the Tragically Hipís albums have been quite challenging enough on their own, particularly to American audiences. Yet, his first solo album was so experimental that it made his bandís output look like a parade of hits straight from Motown.
Battle of the Nudes contains its share of artiness, too, some of which works and some of which doesnít, but one canít blame the ever-antsy Downie from trying. Most notable is the dreamy pop of Willow Logic, the jazzy flare of Pascalís Submarine, and the eerily ambient (ŗ la Radiohead) Steeplechase, while the strange chant Who by Rote and the droning atmospherics of More Me Less You might test some folksí patience. Fortunately, the collection also has its share of literate alternative rock ó the type that the Tragically Hip has been churning out for the past 20 years. As diverse as songs like Willow Logic and Pascalís Submarine are, thereís enough of the Tragically Hip buried within them that they wouldnít sound all that out of place on one of the groupís albums. Elsewhere, both Figment with its thunderous Crazy Horse-like intensity and Chistmastime in Toronto with its driving, yet bouncy beat and churning guitars are far more straightforward. In essence, anything Downie does is worth a listen, but for newcomers to the Tragically Hipís scene, the groupís masterpiece Phantom Power is still the place to start.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box