Published Sep 05, 2014In the past decade, Sloan have released a near-masterpiece (Never Hear the End of It), a pretty great record (The Double Cross) and a couple minor efforts with endearing moments — all things considered, a solid batting average for a band 23 years into a career. This creative success comes even as the individual styles of Sloan's four songwriters seem to continue to grow apart, with even their better albums sounding like exceptionally well-sequenced and well-curated compilations.
This is taken to its logical conclusion on Commonwealth, a four-sided record with one side for each band member. Separating Sloan into its four solitudes reinforces one's impression of each songwriter. To these ears, Jay Ferguson's is the strongest: the band's secret weapon fills his side with Kinks-y gems like "You've Got a Lot on Your Mind" and "Cleopatra." In contrast, Patrick Pentland's riff-rock fetishes, a welcome change of pace on most Sloan records, fare poorly when placed all together.
This is what I would have expected going in, which means my take on the record echoes my take on the band itself. Along those lines, some Sloan fans will expectedly find Pentland's side to be their favourite, just as others will gravitate towards Chris Murphy's catchy earworms or Andrew's impressive, entire side-filling 18-minute composition. Sloan have always been one of Canada's most democratic bands and, accordingly, Commonwealth offers a little something for everyone, no matter what you're looking for. (Yep Roc)