Sloan – Parallel Play

Sloan - Parallel PlaySloanParallel Play (Yep Rock)

I took some heat a while ago for saying that Sloan‘s quest to sound like the Beatles was bordering on parody. Never Hear the End of It had some totally cool songs, but I still think that too many Fab elements leave you sounding more like the Rutles than the Beatles.

So, did the Canadians take my advice and dial back the Liverpudlian a bit? Not really, but for some reason it works this time. Maybe it’s that the songs are better, or maybe it’s because I am in deep into another of my frequent Beatle deep dives. I don’t know, but I like this album MUCH better than the last.

Album opener “Believe in Me” kicks off with some tasty guitar strums that are what Class A amps were made to create. Backed up with some Marc Bolan-like drums, “Believe” delivers three minutes and eighteen seconds of boogie and a healthy dose of snark. It’s the best opening track for Sloan since One Chord to Another’s “Good in Everyone” and that’s saying something!

For some reason, Sloan gets a lot more slack for their shameless influence wearing than Oasis. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s because they are nice Canadian guys instead of loudmouth, shit talking twats. But the references are thick and yet Sloan commands fandom that makes Wilco‘s brood look like ingrates. There is something addictive in what Sloan’s serving up and their fans simply can’t get enough.

“Emergency 911” is an interesting return. It sounds like it’s lifted straight from the band’s 1992 Smeared and I really didn’t expect that. I mean, if you’re choosing to live in either 1966 or 1992, which would YOU choose? Just the same, it’s a welcome return and breaks up the vibe a bit. I’ll take it.

One of the most annoying things about Sloan’s last album was the obvious play for OC-like soundtrack placement. “Radio” was an unlistenable bit of pap that nearly sank the whole album. I am happy to report that there isn’t a hint of that nonsense on Parallel Play, thank God.

Like anyone worth a shit who aspires to capture that Abbey Road sound, guitar tones are at the top of Sloan’s arsenal and they capture some of the best of their career on the aforementioned album opener as well as on “The Other Side” and “I’m Not a Kid Anymore.” I am duly jealous.

The reason I have stuck with Sloan all these years is because they churn out fantastic singles and are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. “If I Could Change Your Mind” must be a hoot in a sweaty club with cute Canadian ex-pats shaking they asses and waving their hands. God, I can’t wait for the next tour stop…

It’s my prerogative as a music fan with a forum in which to air my opinions to change my mind, be inconsistent, and generally annoy. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about this album that makes me forgive (if not forget) the sins of the previous, but I like good jams and you’ll find plenty here. Turn it up, get some Molson, and forget that John Lennon and George Harrison are dead. It’s the best you’re going to get right now.

MP3: Sloan – “I’m Not a Kid Anymore”

Video: Sloan – “Believe in Me”

Sloan: Web, MySpace, YouTube, eMusic.

5 thoughts on “Sloan – Parallel Play”

  1. Glad to see your sense of Sloan reversed, Derek. Welcome back to the bright side.

    I still think it’s too simple to say they’re just Beatles-coppers…but I suppose it’s all nit-picking; enjoyment of the tunes is paramount and there’s plenty to like on this album (like the last!)

  2. Must pick this up. Thanks for the reminder, Derek.

    I still like Never Hear the End of It, but that’s because I only listen to the Jay Ferguson songs. Patrick Pentland is (mostly) to blame for the stuff that bugged you.

  3. Aren’t Patrick’s songs the hard-rockers, like Ill Placed Trust & HFXNSHC? Those are two of my favorites…

    …and how can you tell who’s songs are whose, anyway? Is there a special decoder, or are you so familiar that you know who’s singing all the time?

  4. The same way you can always tell which Beatle is singing. ;-)

    Patrick usually writes the beer commercial rockers and the “radio hits” (haha), Chris writes about himself, Andrew writes the meandering psychedelic pop songs (hit & miss), and Jay is the underrated genius with the sweet, high voice.

  5. Yeah, I guess I’ve been able to pretty much decode which ones were Patrick’s and Andrew’s, but I get confused between Chris and Jay…I’ll pay closer attention to the voices and see if that does the trick…

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