Sloan Parallel Play

[Yep Roc; 2008]

Styles: rock, pop, power pop
Others: Squeeze, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub

Some bands just make strong songwriting appear effortless. Unfortunately, this does not always mean that the band gets its proper accolades (especially during their active periods). Sloan has been just such a band, turning out album after album for the past 15 years, each chock-full of sweet pop-rock confections. While often cited by music critics as among the best rock outfits going, they ultimately fail to gain the scope of audience they deserve. And here I am, making yet another attempt to inspire the masses.

For those already hooked on what Sloan’s pushing, Parallel Play will satiate those urges for infectious pop tunes with sly sophistication. Not as sprawling a set of riches as Never Hear the End of It, this new album is more in the pop juggernaut category, where each song pulls the listener along in head-bobbing succession -- but there’s no less dynamism for that. Opener “Believe in Me” is a jubilant rocker that kicks things off in grand upbeat style, while similar tracks are contrasted with ones like "Cheap Champagne" and "All I Am Is All You're Not," which are more bittersweet and tentative, perhaps more beguiling.

As with any Sloan album, one could single out almost any track and make a strong case for its importance. Here, my personal allegiance goes to "Down in the Basement" for its Band-inspired take on the music business' tendency to reduce a labor of love to an overly complicated set of operations. Touches of such thoughtful reflection can be found coursing throughout the album. Indeed, this is the sound of a band at the top of its game, doing what it has always done best. If history is any indicator, the album should satisfy power pop lovers who give it the chance, while flying under far too many listeners' radars. Perhaps before another 15 years pass, Sloan will get the attention they deserve, but even if they don't, we can be sure that they will continue rewarding the faithful.

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