Release Date: May 10, 2011
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
On the past few Sloan albums, the Canadian rockers came off a bit anxious about aging into an elder statesman role, turning out a few too many songs about feeling old and irrelevant. This time around they seem less worried about being has-beens and more eager to embrace their legacy of impeccable, if not especially hip, songcraft. On The Double Cross – the title is a sly reference to their 20 year career — they play to their strengths with a succinct set of tunes that seamlessly blend the sensibilities of the band's four distinct songwriters.
The title of Sloan's new album is an oblique reference to the band's age. The Double Cross = XX = 20, for the 20 years they've been a band, the same four guys making records and touring together, with all the attendant peaks and valleys of notoriety that come with that. They've been one of the world's great power pop bands that whole time-- hell, they've just been a great rock band-- and that's an oddly thankless achievement.
SLOAN stop at Mod Club on June 22. See listing. Rating: NNNN It's hard to believe nearly 20 years have passed since Sloan hit the airwaves with Underwhelmed, off their debut disc Smeared, and immediately became the coolest rock band in Canada. Some highs and lows in the alt-90s, one contract-killing fake breakup and 10 studio records later, The Double Cross, a slyly titled nod to their anniversary, returns to the songwriting style not of their beloved first two records, but of the equally strong One Chord, Navy and Bridges era.
Toward the end of 2001, the with so-called garage rock revival quickly gathering steam, RCA Records briefly turned its attention to Sloan, a frustratingly undervalued band of power pop geniuses who appeared doomed to remain a cult act outside of their native Canada. RCA arranged for a proper U.S. roll-out for the band’s Pretty Together album and sent them out on the road with their signature signing, a scruffy NYC act called the Strokes.
Returning to normal operations after a three-year hiatus, Sloan offer a few new wrinkles on The Double Cross -- the polyester-draped “Your Daddy Will Do” salutes the ‘70s in a suitably spangly disco fashion, there’s a hint of delicate pastoral folk on “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal” -- but the group doesn’t stray from the pop collage of 2006’s Never Hear the End of It. Each of the 12 cuts lands somewhere between an homage and invention, the four singer/songwriters of Sloan splicing together their deep record collections in ways familiar and fresh. An organ may bring Dylan to mind, harmonies may recall the Beatles, yet these allusions are deployed with knowing winks in songs that don’t explicitly sound like their influences.
“A less popular Canadian Beatles”, “Jangle-rocky”, and “Underrated vintage pop rock”, are just some of the phrases thrown around when asked to describe the band Sloan. The Canadian quartet have been around for 20 years, and after a brief hiatus, are back on the music scene with their aptly-titled album, The Double Cross (or XX). Sloan have always been popular in their home country, but failed to find huge success in the States, despite their hit singles “Money City Maniacs” and “If It Feels Good Do It”.