In some ways, Phantom Power
was positioned as a breakthrough record for the Tragically Hip
. It was their first American studio record in two years, and it was given a push by their new label, Sire. All of these factors were needed for promotional purposes, since the record is very similar to all the other Tragically Hip
albums that preceded it. The band has never quite delivered the power of their live shows on their records (even their live album), but that doesn't mean they make bad records -- they just make records that are uneven and mildly disappointing in comparison to what they are capable of achieving. It's not only in that respect that Phantom Power
delivers the expected -- throughout the album, the Hip
stick to their anthemic hard rock and boogie, turning in a couple of solid songs and a couple of middling tunes. It's what their fans have come to expect and even like, but it's hard not to feel like the group could deliver more.