The Hip's self-titled debut album is blanketed with a roadside texture that is interesting because it harnesses their music in its rawest and earliest stages. Gord Downie has not yet mastered his poetic rigidity or his soothsayer approach to obscure experiences and events here, as he does on future albums. Instead, the simplicity of their first outing comes fumbling through on a track like "I'm a Werewolf Baby," but redemption is quickly found with the frustrated cry of "Small Town Bringdown," complete with an anticipated chorus and burnished guitar. There's even a glimpse into the future with "Last American Exit," which sounds like it could have come from their accomplished Road Apples album. On the other hand, just because the band hasn't yet mastered their musicianship as a whole, doesn't mean the album is a total washout, either. The Tragically Hip were still playing extremely small venues, so its appeal lies within its freshman sound and its link to what the band later became. Songs like "Cemetery Sideroad" and "Highway Girl" may lack the lyrical depth or conceptual tapestry that Downie later evinced, but the overall coarseness is what causes this debut album to seep with some slightly unsophisticated allure.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne