Recorded at the Bathhouse in hometown Kingston, Ontario, the Hip return to the fray with their first album of new material since the announcement of lead singer Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis earlier this year. Named after a song from their previous 2012 album Now For Plan A (ironically an album written at a time when Downie was himself having to deal with his wife’s battle with cancer) their 13th album in just over 30 years Man Machine Poem remains a complicated listen. It’s difficult to disassociate the new songs from the emotional events of this past summer culminating in what many believe to be a long list of lasts for the Hip (last tour, last show, last album) even though the band themselves caution against this kind of prognostication. The album was already written and recorded prior to Downie’s current health battles and deserves to be seen as such. Whether these ten tracks are ultimately the band’s swan song remains to be seen. Beginning with Man and concluding with Machine, Downie, ever the literary craftsmen, leaves the poems in between.
Key tracks: Tired As Fuck, Here In The Dark, Man