Sloan is back.
And not just because their new album is released today. Spanning 30 tracks and 76 minutes, Never Hear The End Of It almost makes Torontoist want to use clichéd terms like “return to form.”
Sloan’s past two albums, Pretty Together (2001) and Action Pact (2003), have been hit and miss. On the former album, one of bassist Chris Murphy’s offerings was “Pick It Up and Dial It”, a left-field rock tune that recalls “Ignoreland” on R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People: fine by itself- or better still in concert- it hits with a thud on the album, when placed alongside more confessional, low-key songs. Still, reconciling four songwriters (the group rotates instruments and lead vocals) into a 12 song album must not be an easy task.
Never Hear The End Of It abandons any hope of whittling the group’s collective songwriting into the average 10-14 song cycle and instead revives the album cohesion of Between The Bridges (1999), which had most of the songs connecting to each other. This album takes the Abbey Road approach one step further, with almost half of the songs under the two-minute mark. “Flying High Again” begins the album with a couplet sung by each of the group’s members, before a drum fill ushers in the first single, Jay Ferguson’s “Who Taught You To Live Like That?” (Available on Sloan’s myspace page.) Whereas Action Pact was dominated by two members, Murphy and guitarist Patrick Pentland, Never Hear The End Of It opens the door for songs from its other members. Be it Andrew Scott’s “I Know You”, Ferguson’s “Right or Wrong”, Murphy’s “Fading Into Obscurity”, or Pentland’s “I Understand” (the nearly six-minute anthem that anchors the rest of the album), each member has moments that could be seen as the best of their career.
In fact, as a whole, Never Hear The End Of It combines the best of Sloan that has come before: the playfulness of Twice Removed, the minimalist appeal of One Chord To Another, the musical variation of Navy Blues, and the cohesion of Between the Bridges. All that with enough nuances to make Torontoist sure that we’re forgetting something.
If you already have tickets to Sloan’s sold-out CD release show tonight, you probably don’t need much convincing to buy this album. But the rest of you should do yourselves a favour and give it a good listen before their Kool House show on Oct. 6.