Thornhill Review


Reviewed by: Josh Drury

From Wed Aug 25 13:23:49 1999
Subject: Yet another Canadian Thornhill Review (Huge)
From: Josh Drury 
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 12:23:49 -0500

Well, here it is, two weeks after the momentous U.S. release, I finally have the
album. You can skip the prelude if you want, it just sets up the review a bit.

 I got off work at 5:00 pm and was raring to go.  I had arranged previously for
my girlfriend to pick me up at work to go straight to the mall to do some quick
comparative shopping and head home with our new CDs.  Unfortunately, my
girlfriend was also interested in *shopping*, eager to take advantage of the
demise of that great Canadian institution, Eaton’s [1].  I checked around for
the best price, and found the prices ranging from $16.94 to a whopping $23.99,
at a store with one copy.  So, over to MusiPlex for the best deal in the area.
I went in, raced to the new releases section, grabbed two copies, and headed
over to the checkout counter.  A catchy song was playing in the store as I
punched in my PIN.  I realized it was “Losing California”, the new single from
Sloan (whose new album is due out on Sept. 21, in both the U.S. and Canada).  I
walked out of the store, humming along, got in the car and drove back to my
girlfriend’s place.  Thornhill was finally in my possession.  But now I wanted
the new Sloan album, too.  Go figure.
 Putting the CD in the player as soon as we got there, we were treated to the
opening chords of “Half as Much”.  And so the review begins…

 Wow!  Catchy number, very upbeat and vocally intricate.  A solid rocker, IMO
could have easily been the first single.  My only complaint would be that it’s
short, but so often the fun, upbeat songs are.

 The Beatles, you say?  Yes, I’m inclined to agree with you there.  Sounds very
John Lennon circa 1968.  The piano, weird chords, witty lyrics, and bass and
drumming style all point towards the Fab Four, especially John.  But, nothing
wrong with the Beatles, and nothing wrong with this song.  Good social
commentary, too.  A keeper.

 A good song, but not the best on the album.  Lyrics are great as they are in
most of the album, but it’s not too adventurous musically.  Still, great to sing
along to.

 *Swoon*… Sorry, I had to do it.  Well, I was impressed with this song.  I don’t
like sappy love songs, but this one did not take the easy way out lyrically or
musically, and it kept momentum admirably, so I have to give it full marks.  And
of course, it made my girlfriend melt.  That wasn’t too difficult, though, she’s
a big Jihead.  I can approve of this as a first single, though normally I’d say
stay away from the slower songs at first and go with an upbeat number.

 Dave keeps it wacky with this fine piece, accentuated with that weird, almost
Waitsian instrumentation.  Lots of quotable lines in this one, I noticed Drea
has already taken one for her .sig.  How can anyone say this album is too

 If the album has a weak point, in my view it would be this song.  Lyrics are
fine as usual, but it sounds so nondescript I might not even notice it if I was
surfing radio stations.  If you think the album is overproduced, on this one I’m
inclined to agree.  Almost sounds like Phil Collins.

 Great song!  The lyrics are hilarious… I believe the appropriate Simpsons quote
would be “It’s funny because it’s true.”  Musically it’s bound to recall Video
Bargainville, especially with the dark sound and distorted spoken lead vocal.
Also, I am reminded of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, for the music as much as
the “shadowy motives” line.  This could be a great follow up single.  Coming
soon to an unsuspecting horror movie audience near you?  We can only hope.


 Beautiful.  The decidedly minimalist and lonely verse gives way to jaw-dropping
harmony in the chorus.  The story of the song is a bittersweet masterpiece.  May
I coin a new phrase by saying “Way to go, Murray!”  (What?  It’s been said


 Another great song with real meaning.  Yes, it’s long, but so what?  Whoever
said its length alone was a comment on the drawn-out painful process of waiting
and trying to rebuild has it dead on.  I also like the alternating weak solo
vocals followed by thundering harmonies, possibly an allusion to the power in
numbers philosophy, and more specifically to labour unions.  This might be a
stretch, but I think it’s an interesting concept.


 Not at all what I expected from the title.  The first time I listened to this
song, there was a bit too much background noise to make out the lyrics, but it
sounded suspiciously happy, and I knew Dave had something up his sleeve.
Listening to it for the second time, this time with headphones, I caught all the
words, and it was *hilarious*.  The song is the antithesis of Independence
Day.   The idea of pure bliss and indifference to a relationship is in many ways
far more scathing than any hate letter could be.  I love the vocals in the
interlude, too, even if they are goofy.  Plus, that “Goin’ to Murray’s/ Goin’ to
Mike’s/ Goin’ to Jian’s/ Ridin’ on bikes” provides a definitive pronounciation
of Jian’s name.  This song is an early favourite of mine.


 A happy little love song.  Reminds me in the concept (though not necessarily
the form) of such classics as the Beatle’s “I Will”.  No complaints on this one.


 This is a potential classic.  Yet another song that uses (to great effect)
amazing harmonies on the chorus.  Brilliant all around.  My only comlaint: yup,
that damn percussion.  But I can’t block it out (and no, I don’t want to just
turn the balance away from it), so I’ll just get used to it.  Looking forward to
hearing it live.


Not gonna happen.  Wishful thinking on my part. [2]


 Great album overall.  A few weak points I’ve mentioned, but surprisingly solid
on the whole.  I don’t find it too heavy, and the goofier songs seem to fit in
just fine.  My favourite album?  Time will tell.
 Inter-song banter: I didn’t mind it at all.  The album could do without it with
no major ill effects, but it makes it a bit more personable.
 Lack of lyrics: I didn’t miss them that much on YWGTTM, but at least there were
instrument and vocal credits.  I’d like to know what some of those strange
noises were.
 Album design: Looks great. That chocolately-brown colour fits the album
perfectly.  A few minor difference with the American version, like a tiny
“Canadian heritage” symbol on the inside of the liner notes, and the good ol’
Canadian Content MAPL (music, artist, production, lyrics) symbol on the back
assuring us that it’s more than fit for Canadian radio play.  And any liner
notes that thank the Tragically Hip are good in my book.

 Again, overall I’m quite happy with it.  It’s grown on me very quickly, and is
sure to gain regular play on my CD player. C album should be a great complement
to it.

Josh Drury

[1] For any of you who may not know, Eaton's has been struggling for about a
year now and finally announced they were closing all their stores some time in
the near future.  Also, I thought I'd point out that E, A, T, O, N, and S are
the most common six letters in the English language, in that order.
[2] For the record, I *like* Organ Grinder.

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