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.
Video: Sloan – “Believe in Me”