SLOAN - THE DOUBLE CROSS
After releasing 10 albums over 20 years, the music and work of a band has to eventually make its way into your psyche. That statement is ultra-evident with Sloan's latest release 'The Double Cross'. Noted for their ability to make magnificent wordplay out of everyday phrasing, The Double Cross signifies two X's thus illustrating the band's ten albums over twenty years of keepin' it together. Illuminating their strengths with crafty vocal melodies and driving rock ballads, the rotating 4-man-front Sloan is at the top of their game and show no signs of resting on their laurels.
Kicking off with a continuous-play trifecta of power-pop-rock-throttle, the anthemic 'Follow The Leader' blasts out Chris Murphy-style as one of the best Sloan songs in years. Careening all over the place melodically, FTL almost sounds like 3 songs in one but still holds together tightly and stays true to its pioneering theme. Ending on an uber-high vocal note and splicing into track 2 seamlessly, 'The Answer Was You' is one of the best Jay Ferguson songs ever written and shows why he fits into this band so well. Ferguson's less-loud and soothing vocals power the song ahead on a bed of distortion hum and driving rhythm. Even better than the first 2 songs though is track 3 - Patrick Pentland's 'Unkind'. Swirling around on a spacey bed of Greg Macdonald's keys-work (which actually fills a lot of room on this record in a tasteful fashion), a crunchy and catchy riff lets you know that Patrick is still all about the rock.
The album continues on from track 3 and keeps the listener's ear speaker-glued right up until track 12 (including one of Andrew's most beautiful and introspective songs to date called 'Traces'.) I'd like to say that everyone will love this record but I don't know if I truly can. Sloan is a lifestyle - you either understand them or you don't. When you've grown up with someone in your headphones for 20 years, and you've seen them develop, mature and grow in so many ways, their influence is almost inexplicable to the outsider. The Double Cross is a landmark of a band who have definitely blazed a trail in the Canadian music scene. Even if the music doesn't fit with everyone's hipstery styles and faux-informed tastes, Sloan is a band who demands respect at every turn for making music the way they've wanted to make it for 20 years.