The Tragically Hip weren't particularly concerned with being a mainstream breakthrough by the time they issued their ninth album, In Violet Light. Phantom Power didn't do the job and the obscure Music @ Work was forgettable. Alas, the Hip didn't seem to mind. They don't bow to critics -- only to fans, and they're the reason why the band continues to sell records and sell out stadiums. The Tragically Hip are an honest man's band with an incomparable romance and fans are drawn to that. Their first for Rounder, In Violet Light is a tasteful blend of the band's sharp songcraft and Gordon Downie's classic poetic rants. Early on, Downie proclaims that there's "music that will make you feel great" on the celebratory "Use It Up." Name dropping Springsteen and Randy Newman around a song inspired by a Raymond Carver quote is clever and typically Hip. The ambitious drive of "Are You Ready," which is carried by the electric cross-fire of guitarists Paul Langlois and Bobby Baker, sparks enthusiasm whereas the airiness of "It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken" and "A Beautiful Thing" tame the band's dynamic disposition. The feverish "Silver Jet" is a great lyrical adventure; "The Dire Wolf" takes things a bit further with Wallace Stevens as its mainspring, soaring over the beauty of Newfoundland and the Bahamas. The Tragically Hip absorb their surroundings without getting lost, making In Violet Light a natural fit for loyalists. The lag of Trouble at the Henhouse is absent, while the matchless beauty of Fully Completely is reminiscent. The Tragically Hip have always followed their own formula and do it again with In Violet Light for a solid, cohesive piece of work.
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson