Published Apr 03, 2018Sloan's contribution to the current state of Canadian music is likely not what it should be. In their 27 years as a band, they've steadily released new albums — and some are better than others — but their overall contribution is greater than they often get credit for. To put it bluntly, they pretty much singlehandedly put indie rock on the map for us back in 1992.
Since the millennium hit they've inexplicably become underdogs or even a cult band in their home country. But in this age of retrospection, there's no better time than the present to come make amends. Their 12th studio album, aptly named 12, is just the one to spark a re-appraisal of their catalogue.
Following the novel concept of 2014's Commonwealth, 12 is arguably the most well-rounded album they've made since 1999's underrated Between the Bridges. Like that effort, each of the band's four songwriters has three cuts each — a trait they're frequently celebrated for — however, these songs just seem to sparkle brighter and gel together better than the Sloan albums from this century. Each member just seems to elevate his songwriting chops.
Lead track and single "Spin Our Wheels" is a textbook radio-friendly rocker featuring a soaring chorus by Chris Murphy, who returns later on for the sanguine, self-referencing "Don't Stop (If It Feels Good Do It)." Patrick Pentland unabashedly throws back to the band's early days, channelling Smeared's overdrive-happy guitars on "The Day Will Be Fine" and even Nirvana on "All of the Voices." Meanwhile, Jay Ferguson presents a trifecta of perfect, '60s soft pop homage, and Andrew Scott is in full Dylan-esque mode for his contributions.
It's easy to simply appreciate Sloan for what they did in the '90s, but don't sleep on what they've been doing since. And 12 is a solid reminder that they've been pretty together all these years, as well as an ideal starting point should you feel like revisiting the albums you may have missed.
Ed's note: an earlier version of this review misstated a song title.
12 is available on CD and orange vinyl via MusicVaultz. (Murderecords/Universal)