Review::Sloan - Never Hear The End Of It

Do you really need to read a Sloan review? At first I didn't think so. I did my little preview post for Sloan's new long player (30 songs long in fact) and was going to leave it at that. After all if you've had an interest in Canadian music in the last 15 or so years that goes deeper than the Nicklesack or "The Hip", then you know all you need to know about Sloan. Or do you?

Nice, see how I lured you on to this paragraph? I can see you there "Maybe I don't know everything about Sloan, maybe I've been living a lie". Well there's no need for that kind of insane panic, I'm sure you know plenty, smart guy. What I mean is that the most prevalent criticism of Sloan in the last few years is that their albums "sound the same". I mean they might sound good, but sounding the same is the same as sounding bad for music critics. The straight ahead rockness of their last album, Action Pact, only made this complaining louder than ever, so Sloan decided to shake things up for their next album.

What did they do? Well they locked themselves up in their rehearsal space and recorded a crap-ton of songs they mainly produced themselves. Then they took 30 of these songs and arranged them mix-tape style into a new album, the punnily named Never Hear The End Of It. I compare it to a mix-tape because the songs tend to blend together, almost seamlessly at times, not something you typically hear on a rock record. Also a number of these songs are very short, like a minute or less, and they kind of act like interludes on a hip hop album. Well, minus the gratuitous gunplay and simulated sex.

This is a slightly wacky concept for an album, and in theory sounds like a 70's rock influenced Bad Idea Jeans ad. But actually I think it's quite the opposite, I think it works. It's kind of reflective of the way we listen to music now. With digital music, mp3s, yada, yada, it's getting rarer to sit down and listen to a album straight through. Most of the time I put my iPod on shuffle and let it do it's magic. Thw wide range of styles and sounds on Never Hear The End Of It sounds like the full range of Sloan's albums being played on shuffle.

Another reason this album format works is that Sloan usually has all 4 members write and perform songs, which makes it hard to have a naturally cohesive album. The first single, Who Taught You To Live Like That, is handled by Jay Ferguson and is classic Sloan with, handclaps, tambourine, and some rollicking pianos. Usually Jay's songs aren't my favorites, but this is a good one, it grows on you. As usual, Patrick Pentland provides some of my favorite moments on the album. Listen To The Radio reminds me of Your Dreams Have Come True from Pretty Together, one of my favorite songs off that album. Patrick also has a gem with I Understand, which starts out with Beach Boys sounding vocals and ends with a semi-psychedelic guitar fuzz and bells combo. Everybody Wants You is a Chris Murphy special, in the vein of The Other Man. Chris also has one of the catchiest songs on the album, Someone I Can Be True With, which also features the lyric "Someone to watch Gremlins 2 with". Can't beat a rock reference to Gremlins 2. Andrew Scott slows things down to great effect to open up I Know You, but he picks up the pace and has the fellas join him for some traditional Sloan harmony. Good song.

So what does all this rambling add up to? Basically I think Sloan has put out their best album in a while and it's certainly worth checking out. I think trying something different with the 30 piece song set energized the band and you can sense that listening to the album. This certainly doesn't sound like the same album, hopefully people will give it a chance.


@ 7:29 PM, Stoney kicked the following game:

Well said my friend. This is indeed a fantastic album from start to finish and I am not saying this just because I reside in Sloans home turf of N.S. It took me a couple of listens but this LP quickly grew on me. Listen to the Radio stands out to me as well as Chris's Fading Into Obscurity.It is a shame that Sloan are not huge in the States because this album should go down as one of the years best like The Killers Sams Town.

 

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