February 19, 2004

Test Spin: Sloan

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The Hip Canadian indie scenesters in Sloan are back with a new album full of their best kind of work: guitar-laden, self-indulgent songs that sound raw and uncut, like they recorded them in a basement. Their last album, Pretty Together, was a turn away from the gritty roots of the band and showcased a more polished and studio-friendly style. Now, Sloan has gone back to their strengths, turning out a melodic record full of heavy guitar riffs over laced with airy, almost lackadaisical vocals.

Opening with a strong and in-your-face track, “Gimme That,” Sloan takes on modern capitalism and the state of music today, challenging each listener to decide if they’re going to fall into the trap of commercialism, if they’re going to be a sap and buy into what’s dished out to the public. Sloan has never been a band that bought into large record labels or what’s been trendy in music, preferring instead to start their own label, murderecords, to put out five of their eight CDs and one LP over the course of ten years. That independence comes through clearly on this track.

One of the catchier songs on the disc is “Backstabbin’,” a rollicking indictment of annoying, petty, belittling behaviour that tears us down and wears us out. Chris Murphy’s vocals convey just the right amount of bitterness and anger, with enough melody left over to make anyone’s head bob to the beat. Coming on the heels of this semi-rager is a ballad, “The Rest of My Life,” an homage to life, love, and Canada. This band is good old rock and roll with a little Beatles flavour.

Archived article by Sue Karp