April 2, 2018 Sloan – 12 (Album Review)
Until the nascent stage of the Internet era in the early 2000s, the music scene was still very Americocentric and Anglocentric. Many music enthusiasts, when they thought of bands, automatically went either American or British almost by default. For instance, in the 1990s, Alternative Rock was dominated by the American purveyors of the genre. After all, that was understandable; Alternative Rock, for the most part, originated or, at the least, flourished in Seattle, Washington; and other key American cities.
However, these were not the only places. There were also a considerable number of Canadian bands that attempted to join the league and succeeded in putting their country on the musical map of the genre. One of those bands was the indomitable Sloan – 27 years in existence, 12 albums, and yet still up and running, gigging and releasing new music.
Formed in 1991, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sloan is comprised by the same quartet of Chris Murphy (bass, lead vocals), Patrick Pentland (guitar, keyboards), Jay Ferguson (rhythm guitar), and Andrew Scott (drums). Amid the continually changing musical landscape, the enduring and resilient band have maintained their saccharine and quirky brand of Alternative Rock/Indie Pop music – from 1992’s Smeared to 2014’s Commonwealth. Now, four years after the last album, Sloan is at it again, unleashing the much-awaited follow-up, simply titled 12.
Slated for release on April 6, 2018, on Yep Roc Records, 12 opens with the bright gloss of the sunny, upbeat, guitar-powered “Spin Our Wheels.” Shine on! You will know why you will love it. The energy then flows into the ensuing “All of the Voices,” which seemingly pays homage to ’90s Alternative Rock as it exudes teen spirits of Nirvana’s “Polly” and The Offspring’s “Self-Esteem.” The mood then turns a bit more rustic and folky with “Right to Roam,” whose crisp guitar plucks, playful rhythm, vocal harmonies, and customary claps complete the shiny Pop package.
“Gone for Good” is a further trek back in time, this time to the breezy meadows of ’60s Psychedelic Folk, only to revert to the Guitar Pop propensity of Sloan in the form of “The Day Will Be Mine,” which stands out with its anthemic guitar ad-lib. Another change of vibes, but glazed with something familiar, the piano-adorned “Essential Services” will remind the initiated of Paul McCartney & Wings. A silly love song? Definitely not! Make it a pretty lovable song.
“Don’t Stop (If It Feels Good Do It)” and “Year Zero” then follow in the same ye old classic, late-’50s Rock-n-Roll vibrations, only to jump a couple of decades forward, as the early, angular New Wave sound of “Have Faith” plays next – reminiscent of The Romantics’ “What I Like About You.” The following “The Lion’s Share” returns the listener to Guitar Pop mode.
Slowing the tempo a bit, the sentiments more introspective, the guitar more cacophonous and much fuzzier, but maintaining the album’s overall choppy rhythm and vocal catchiness is “Wish Upon a Satellite.” Your one last wish is granted as Murphy, Pentland, Ferguson, and Scott wrap up their 12th offering with “44 Teenagers,” beginning in a subdued grace and then concluding in a loose, jam-feel atmosphere.
Alternative Rock may have not been the focus of the commercial spotlight for quite a while now; but with the forthcoming 12, Sloan simply soldiers on. As they are still dressed up in the same familiar and comforting sonic regalia that the proudly Canadian band first exhibited in Smeared and then Twice Removed, a quarter of a century ago, the loyal follower will certainly remember what Marcus said, “What’s there to decide? Just savor it!”
So, switch your gear to 500 up and take them in again – that is, Sloan’s sugar tunes; and surely you will not be underwhelmed, from one chord to another. CrypticRock gives 12, 4 out of 5 stars.