[We welcome back to these digital pages long-time contributor and friend of the blog Jay Kumar. When Mr. Kumar is not doing tons of stuff that basically makes the rest of us look like lazy asses, he hosts the consistently terrific Completely Conspicuous podcast. Subscribe here. -- Ed.]
Twenty years is a long time to do anything, let alone do it at a consistently high level. But quality is exactly what relatively unheralded Canadian power pop veterans Sloan has delivered album by album since 1991. Over two decades, the band has endured major label flirtations, serious shifts in musical plate tectonics, low record sales, a brief breakup and constant touring. On its new album The Double Cross (out this week on Yep Roc), Sloan serves up another impeccable collection of songs that could comfortably fit in any of the last four decades.
The band has always featured songs written and sung by all four members and The Double Cross is no exception. Album opener "Follow the Leader," penned by bassist Chris Murphy, is an uptempo number that segues into "The Answer Was You," a song from guitarist Jay Ferguson, who writes perfect 1970s AM radio ditties. Guitarist Patrick Pentland contributes catchy riff-rockers, including the standouts "Unkind" and "It's Plain to See." In addition to his powerhouse drumming, Andrew Scott continually contributes interesting slabs of psych-rock to Sloan albums, providing a nice counterpoint to the Beatles and Kiss-influenced offerings of his bandmates. Scott’s "Traces" and "She's Slowin' Down Again" are two more top-notch numbers. The album is full of songs that should be all over the radio, but won’t be.
Like 1999's Between The Bridges and 2006's Never Hear The End of It, the songs here fade into each other, and like those albums, The Double Cross is over quickly, leaving the listener wanting more. And really, that's all you can ask for. -- Jay Kumar
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