Sloan – The Double Cross (album review)

Sloan – The Double Cross (Yep Roc Records) CD review

Anyone that says rock is dead hasn’t heard Sloan

Rock music of today mostly fits into two camps – on one side you have the hard rockin’ guys who seem perpetually angry at everything, on the other you have the alternative dudes who have to make things as weird as possible or it just isn’t cool.  What both sides have forgotten is that rock n’ roll is supposed to be FUN. Thankfully, there are still bands like Sloan, who don’t seem to give a crap about trends or putting on some sort of pose.  The Double Cross is the band’s tenth record (the title is a sly reference to the fact that they’re celebrating 20 years together – “XX” = 20 in Roman numerals – you remember that from school, don’t you?)

The album opens with “Follow the Leader,” featuring a Lennon-drenched-in-echo vocal from Chris Murphy and a stomping beat akin to BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business.”  This immediately segues seamlessly into Jay Ferguson’s “The Answer is You,” which starts with a melodic chorus before giving way to a tense bridge with Murphy again on vocals, then back to the chorus.  This morphs right into the feedback-laden next track, “Unkind,” which serves as the first single from the album.  With this formula of each song fading into another, the band is essentially thumbing their nose at the Itunes’ “pick whatever songs you want off our album” policy – instead, begging you to listen to the record as a whole (geez, imagine THAT?).

The amazing thing is that Sloan have blended their influences over the years so well, that – although there are certain “retro” elements on the record, the music is completely their own.  Take, for instance, “She’s Slowing Down Again,” with its prominent organ and “ba ba ba” chorus, it kind of has a Zombies feel.  “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal” is acoustic and has chords reminiscent of some of Nick Drake’s best work.  “It’s Plain to See” has a distinctly British Invasion feel without ripping any band in particular.  That’s followed by “Your Daddy Will Do,” which starts with a muzak beginning before turning into a bouncy number with a funky rhythm guitar. “Beverly Terrace” has an insistent dance beat before reprising the earlier “Shadow of Love” (love it!).    The disc closes with the melancholy “Laying So Low,” which sounds like an undiscovered Badfinger outtake.  The guys know what goes into making great songs – there’s lots of repetition in the choruses and just about everything has a great beat – making it an excellent party record.

With The Double Cross, Sloan have released another great one.  Keep up the good work guys.  –Tony Peters