Sloan – Never Hear the End of It

Sloan - Never Hear the End of ItSloanNever Hear the End of It (Yep Roc)

Sloan exemplifies many of the things that make rock and roll great: strong guitar melodies, hooky yet not entirely predictable song structures, solid grooves, and strong singing complete with lots of harmonizing. In listening to their back catalog (which is, on the whole, worthwhile), it’s apparent that they’ve become more and more comfortable being who they are: a band intent on making songs that will pop back into your head for hours or days after listening to them. They want to be that band, earnestly.

Which brings us to Never Hear the End of It, Sloan’s 8th full-length studio release. Since their success is secure in Canada and probably never going to happen in the U.S., or maybe since Sloan has been at this for so long, they do some things with this album that are outside the norm. First off is the album cover’s background, which is pink. This, to me, is ballsy. How many male bands would do that?

Anyway, the title itself is a play on its length, which clocks in at just under 77 minutes, with 30 songs, effectively making it a double-album. For the first couple of listens, it’s better to split it up; I recommend taking a short intermission after track 14, “I Understand.”

Initially, though the album is a tour de force, its length can be a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, that’s probably part of the point, as this abundance of material crammed into a single listening session (the songs transition into each other seamlessly, for the most part) seems to be a rebellion against the trend among music fans to simply get their favorite single tracks from an artist. They’re reasserting the rapidly disappearing concept that albums are important by piecing together all of these songs into one whole. They haven’t cut content to fit a more standard album length, and since Sloan is a band where everybody writes songs and sings, there’s no shortage of material.

The songs run the gamut from arena rock (“Flying High Again”, “Who Taught You to Live Like That?”) to synthesizer-laced, effects-laden space pop (“Listen to the Radio”, “Golden Eyes”) to piano-jangle power-pop (“Right or Wrong”, “Before the End of the Race”) to soft-rock anthems (“Can’t You Figure It Out?”, “Live the Life You’re Dreaming Of”) to fist-pumping hard rock (“Ill Placed Trust”, “HFXNSHC” [before you ask: Halifax Nova Scotia Hardcore]).

Which tracks you like on this album may have more to do with what styles of music you enjoy and less to do with the songs themselves. Whereas many of Sloan’s previous albums may have been a bit more monochromatic, tending towards more overall cohesiveness in terms of sound, it’s refreshing to hear them pull off so many disparate sounds and weave them together, one song into the next, so enjoyably.

The release of the A Sides Win singles compilation in 2005 (review) triggered the usual interpretation that this was a band that might hang it up. Never Hear the End of It is proof that Sloan is still on top of their game, better than ever, turning out pop music better than just about anybody on either side of the North American divide.

Stream the whole album at Sloan’s site.

11 thoughts on “Sloan – Never Hear the End of It”

  1. Hey Kyle,

    First, welcome to GLONO.

    But I have to say that I find this album to be utterly obnoxious. On many of the Beatle-y songs, they veer into parody. The lyircs are awful, and more than a couple are sad attempts for inclusion on teen drama TV soundtracks (Fly High Again, Radio–which is maybe the worst thing I’ve heard in years).

    I like and own a lot of Sloan, but this album drives me nuts.

  2. Ozzy has a song “Flying High Again”, off Diary Of A Madman. Any chance Sloan meant to reference this?

    Big thumbs up to One Chord To Another. Essential listening.

  3. Hey Derek,

    Thanks for the welcome…I’m excited to be a contributor to this great website!

    I got the impression that you weren’t a fan of this album from your recent Spoon review…the reference there was my impetus towards writing this review. I’m not a big fan of the parody label; when I read that some piece of music is a parody, I think of Weird Al and the like. You can say it’s poor imitation of the Beatles, or redundant, or whatever, but to imply they’re purposely making a humorous imitation is a stretch. I also avoided the ever-referenced Beatles tag because I think it’s simplistic; there are many more influences on these songs besides the Fab Four…and if you’re going to start looking for the Beatles influence on pop music since their time, you’re going to be busy for quite a while.

    Beyond that, I didn’t find the lyrics to be poor at all…I mean, it’s not Dylan, but at the same time it’s not trying to be…it’s pop music! Lastly, I would agree that Listen to the Radio is not my favorite song on the album either, but if you’re a fan of teen drama TV soundtracks it might be right up your alley!

  4. “when I read that some piece of music is a parody, I think of Weird Al and the like. You can say it’s poor imitation of the Beatles, or redundant, or whatever, but to imply they’re purposely making a humorous imitation is a stretch.”

    What I meant is it SOUNDS like a parody, not that it is. It’s leaning close to the Rutles when you borrow too many of the marquis Beatles’ sounds and you sound like a tribute band…or a parody.

    And the lyrics? Wilco wrote good pop songs. Elliott Smith wrote great pop songs. Sloan has never been known for stellar lyrics, but some of these songs are embarassing.

    Of course, I don’t hate this album. I like a handful of the songs and Sloan is always great for a mix CD, but this album is pretty weak.

  5. Wow, someone (who isn’t me) is finally writing about Sloan on GloNo!

    Never Hear the End of It is bloated and uneven, but I think it’s a return to form. Jay’s songs are particularly strong. (Perhaps it’s time for a solo album?)

    And face it, Americans would never shut up about this band if Neko was in it.

  6. Dreamin’ wrote: “And face it, Americans would never shut up about this band if Neko was in it. ”

    Ah, funny ’cause it’s true.

    Definitely a return to form. Sure “Radio” is a Collective Soul-sounding clunker, but one or two songs out of 30 isn’t bad. And “Another Way I Could Do It” is damn near perfect.

  7. “Americans would never shut up…” Really? This is implying that in Canada they’re like, um, Rush or something?

    I’ve never met an actual, in person Canadian yet that admitted to liking Sloan.

  8. “Really? This is implying that in Canada they’re like, um, Rush or something?”

    Actually, probably more like Nirvana and the Seattle scene in the early 90’s. In Canada, it was all about Halifax (e.g., Never Mind the Molluscs – seriously!)

    There’s even a weighty tome about it.

    I hear what Derek is saying and I can probably guess the songs he’s referring to (“Fading Into Obscurity,” “Someone That I Can Be True With” – yikes!), but my unconditional love for this band allows me to erase the terrible stuff from my memory and focus on the pop gems (mostly written by Jay Ferguson).

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