Few are as able to consistently mine new musical and emotional territories as the Tragically Hip.

Few are as able to consistently mine new musical and emotional territories as the Tragically Hip. On In Violet Light, the Canadian band's ninth studio album, singer/songwriter Gordon Downie taps his stream-of-brooding-consciousness for lyrics that smack not of pretension but of subtle soul-baring honesty. His voice, and the entire band, are alternately tender (first single "It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken," "Throwing Off Glass"), edgy and barbed ("All Tore Up," "The Dire Wolf"), and/or soaring ("The Darkest One") to powerful effect. Wholly cohesive and inspiring, In Violet Light burns with a universal faith, as Downie addresses in "Use It Up": "Where we can jump to our feet, agape/'Cause nothing is cruel/And even if it is or was/Indefeasibly cruel/We don't care because/Yer a fool/I'm a fool . . . for music that can take you away."—BJ