Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
An impressive eleven releases (that’s excluding a live album, a trick live album, and greatest hits compilation) into their career, Sloan remains a mainstay on both fairweather-popular and bafflingly loyal message-board radar in Canada, and as is evident on their new digital-only Hit & Run EP, available now through their own Murderecords label, they’re still pretty comfortable there for now.
A nod (in title only) to bassist Chris Murphy’s collar-bone-busting bicycle collision with a car this summer, Hit & Run is more Sloan being Sloan as we’ve come to know them over the past few albums; Murphy is still full of the quick ‘n’ deliberate cheese that fuels his fan-favourite personality, guitarist Patrick Pentland goes deeper into psychedelia and still churns out effortless hooks, guitarist Jay Ferguson is as AM-radio syrupy sweet as ever, and drummer Andrew Scott still hasn’t stopped listening to his original Nuggets compilation. The five new songs start off with a killer Murphy single, “Take It Upon Yourself” (streaming above), a throwback to the hidden-gem album tracks he used to pen before he started crooning and stopped trying to hit notes he can’t hit (c’mon! Classic!) and the clean overdrive was replaced with gross overcringe, and from there the next four tracks play out unremarkably, edging close to a Parallel Play abyss. Things pick up with Scott’s “Where Are You Now?,” but there isn’t much to uncover past the riffs and chants.
Sloan’s collective collection of skillful pop songs from the past decade are mostly unparalleled. At their best, they’re super smart and sound fresh even with their almost-criminally obvious influences. We’ve been spoiled and we don’t want to settle for less. Is that so bad? Hit & Run‘s real purpose is to give the above-mentioned ‘net creeps an in on the new stuff Sloan will be playing on tour (which, despite its mediocrity on record, will probably be great as always live), and it gives the band a reason to try out their fancy new online store, and, oh, to push the new digital re-release of their catalogue (extra songs! High-quality versions of “Stood Up” and “Same Old Flame”! Uber-fan moment!). Disappointing, maybe, but it would be much more so if the Sloan track record and brilliance weren’t still intact—even if it is sort of hiding.