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Wow, well J's written an amazingly in-depth review of Sloan's latest album, Never Hear the End of It. (I could probably make a stupid joke about how I thought I'd never get to the end of his review, but I seem only to be able to get away with dumb things like that at the office, where the silliness provides necessary levity. Plus I really like what he's done and don't want to besmirch it for a cheap laugh... or groan.)

I've listened to the album five times through now, each time from start to finish, and I haven't really dabbled with individual tracks. Reading the review has me listening to the album a sixth time now. (I ended up taking a break from it, and from rock music in general, and focusing on classical music for a bit. I always oscillate between the two, and sometimes the periods are longer than others. I had a really long rock music phase recently, and now I'm in a half-and-half phase.)

Anyway, I've listened to the new record enough times to have general opinions of it, but I'm not ready to do a track-by-track review yet. (I don't know when I'll have time for that.) I really don't dislike any of Sloan's releases, except perhaps the Peppermint EP, which I think they bettered in every way with the release of Smeared. However, I do think some of their albums are stronger than others. I agree with The Onion AV Club's Hall of Fame that their masterpiece is Between the Bridges (henceforth referred to as BtB). Pretty Together was hit or miss, Action Pact was rockin' but perhaps a bit monolithic in its approach, and now we have, in my estimation, Sloan's best album since BtB.

What do they have in common? Aside from blending the songs together (something that was done masterfully on Side B of The Beatles' Abbey Road) and generally keeping them short in length, there's a very musical flow to the way the songs are arranged that makes it easy to listen to the full record, despite its overall duration. When the individual members of Sloan are at the top of their songwriting game, and all four are making quality contributions, something magical happens. They provide a variety of styles, which is what makes them so fun to listen to... again like The Beatles. (Jason's gonna harp on my bringing them up like this, but they're undeniably an influence, and always have been.)

The thing that surprised me the most about this album is the number of Andrew songs in it - and how good they are! After being shut out of Action Pact, probably by choice, he's come back with a vengeance. His contributions are my favorite this time around. His voice is great, his songs don't have the occasionally self-indulgent quality that Jason was complaining about, which has been evident on some of his tracks in earlier albums. I think Andrew had some really terrific material on Pretty Together, and of course the culminating "Delivering Maybes" on BtB, so I'm happy to hear that he's carrying it forward.

Jay... Jay does his best work since BtB. His music is so unabashedly happy here! I don't want to seem to take Chris and Patrick for granted, but they've put out so much material over the course of their careers (and dominated the last album) that I don't really have anything new to say about their work. I like what they do. Patrick's been getting harder and Chris has been turning out some really pretty ballads... sort of a flip on their roles earlier in the history of the band. They are both very skilled in both genres, but I just get the impression that there's been a gradual shift of focus from one to the other.

So in summation, Andrew's work here has me going back to appreciate his earlier work, and Never Hear the End of It has me switching back and forth between it and BtB. Both albums don't work so well on iPod shuffle mode, and so what? I'm such a fan of musicians that really craft albums as a whole, and the new one falls right in line with my sensibilities. Simply, it makes me happy to listen to it, the whole blessed thing, from start to finish, every time. For a newcomer, I'd still recommend BtB first, because I don't know how the uninitiated would react to the sprawling new album (and they may not be amenable to the Sloan sound), but Never Hear the End of It would be my follow-up recommendation. Definitely.

Comments (4)

you're such a besmircherER of cheap laughs.

btb is good, but i think one of the reasons i like twice removed so much is because musically it's strong, it's got classic sloan harmonizing, and the sloan sound of varying vocals by the different members. twice removed also has some things not found on other albums after twice removed, like vocals from people outside sloan (jale's jennifer pierce on 'i can feel it'). i discovered twice removed also during a point in my life when i was trying to define who i was... ah yes... the awkwardness of high school, when you're not an "adult" and definitely not a kid. from that point on until now... not many things have been constant in my life. people, friends, priorities, and goals have changed, but sloan has been pretty consistent. it was also a record that changed their sound, and i think how they sound like now is defined more by twice removed than their earlier record smeared.

i know that the beatles are and influence... but i still don't like em.

and just so you know... you used one of christielli's all time favorite words in your blog.

you're a levity.

#1 - you get points for using besmirch in your post. Did you know that's my fave word???

#2 - I find it interesting that btb is considered Sloan's best album by the Onion. I'm a long time reader of Chart magazine, and they've named Twice Removed the best Cdn album of all time, and One Chord to Another and Navy Blues are not far behind. So I always think of those three as the big Sloan albums.

My opinion - when it comes to Sloan, I'm a song girl more of an album girl. On each album there is a big handful of songs that i love love love and a few I don't care for. So, I just put the ones I love on my Sloan-related iPod lists and enjoy.

I agree Jay is the standout on this album. And I'm like you, I love the direction Patrick's going in.

I find a few of Chris' song tend to blend together on this album.

But all in all, I loves it.

you are a leviathan

you are a levitator

you are a levitte

you are a levy

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