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CD Review Veteran Canadian power pop band makes its' best album yet.

Sloan - Never Hear The End Of It

By Scott Homewood

Yep Roc Records

I love Sloan. Rarely has a band put out such a long string of great records and still manage to be able to plumb the depths of their souls and find new layers to explore in their music. Since their 1992 Candian debut Peppermints, the band has been a marvel to listen to. Not only do each of their albums stand alone (often with such a distinct sound that it is hard to find two of their albums sounding alike as solid individual projects but the band also has a singular sound that makes it easy for fans to identify within the first few seconds of a song. It's a trick only the most successful bands like The Rolling Stones and U2 have been able to pull off and Sloan manage to do it despite having the fortunate burden of each member of the band being an above-average songwriter.

The use of the words "fortunate burden" is quite intentional as it has no doubt been a great benefit to Sloan, especially live, to have a full-band (of potential frontmen able to write a great song, take the vocal and be the focal point. But, it has also no doubt hurt the band from the standpoint of not having one main person the general public can focus on and latch on to. Despite how many hipsters and music industry people have lauded them, the US public at large has ignored them, leaving them mega-stars in Canada but relative unknowns in the US. It's not been the band's fault, though. Their first US label DGC didn't know how to promote their Beatlesque pop once grunge took over and their next label, The Enclave, went belly-up just as their great album One Chord To Another had been released. Sick of record company politics, the band formed it's own label and now leases their masters to the highest bidder. To say their niche as one of the few true democratic bands in rock has not made them unique would be naive to say the least. They are the proverbial square peg trying to wedge themselves into the round hole.  And their fans would have it no other way. Why should they, when the band is able to release albums as good as this and so consistently to boot?

For this album, the band has seized a concept involving all four members finishing every song they started during the writing process and recording it, whether the song was truly "finished" or not. Thus, the album gives us thirty songs, some fully completed and some just fragments running between other songs. Not truly a concept album as the songs don't really tell a cohesive story, the album is nonetheless a masterstroke for Sloan. The closest thing I've ever heard that comes close would be the second side of the Beatles' Abbey Road! Filled to the brim with catchy melodies and clever couplets, the band usues their patchwork concept to edit themselves judiciously, hitting their songs hard and getting out fast before any dross is left and leaving the listener panting for more. While some have stated their concept is too much, that the amount of hooks on the album leaves one with sensory overload or a sort of sugar-rush making the album undigestible, I feel that's nonsense. How many times in the last ten years or so has there been an album both catchy/poppy, filled with throwaway singalongs and yet still demanding enough for you to keep returning to it and finding new songs and new layers? Never Hear the End Of It is possibly the world's first disposable album filled with undisposably classic songs. While my favorite song on the disc, "I Know You" doesn't clock in until 25 other songs have come and gone, I don't care - this album is such a re-invention for the band I am too busy grooving on all of the songs that by the time my fave kicks in, it's just a fucking bonus. To listen as the band takes to you down these musical winding roads is to get lost in one of the best albums of the year.

If you are already a Sloan fan, this might just be your favorite yet from the group. They manage to update their melody-drenched sound and punky-slicing guitars with a whole new vocabulary that's both new yet somehow familiar at the same time. If you're not yet a fan, I feel sad for you. You're truly missing out on some of the best music going. Luckily, there's still hope - pick up this album and crank it up to the heavens. I might praise them too much, but, as far as this album goes, I never wanna hear the end of it!


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