Stream to Sept. 9
Who's your favourite member of Sloan? It’s the Canadian equivalent to asking you to choose between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, or between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, for that matter. And whether Sloan likes it or not, that question will also be at the core of the quartet’s new double album, Commonwealth, which gives each member — Chris Murphy, Jay Ferguson, Patrick Pentland and Andrew Scott — one side of the album to work with.
Murphy has compared it to Kiss’s ill-fated 1978 release of four self-titled solo albums on the same day, which was not only their least successful release, but ultimately served to solidify the hierarchy of the group — drummer Peter Criss’s album ended up at the bottom, Ace Frehley on top.
On Commonwealth, however, Sloan have found a way to make four distinct voices on four distinct album sides sound like one cohesive whole, each side complementing and contrasting with the others. It’s a balancing act the band has carried off for the majority of their 20-plus year career, but never has it been sequenced in such a way that makes it as pronounced as on Commonwealth.
Ferguson’s “Diamond” side (each side is named for a suite of cards) kicks off the album with his trademark melodic and symphonic pop (including the Bowie-channeling album opener, “We’ve Come this Far”), leading perfectly into Murphy’s “Heart” side, which bursts with jangly rock and infectious licks (“Carried Away” is an album standout). Pentland digs into his psych-rock influences for the “Shamrock” side, including the lead single, “Keep Swinging (Downtown),” which sounds like a mix between BTO and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Scott makes a definitive closing statement with his “Spade” side, which is one almost 18-minute-long pop medley called “Forty-Eight Portraits” that includes everything from a barking dog to Beatles references to a choir that asks, “If we can understand it, why can’t you?”
The question, however, is unnecessary, as the album, which clocks in at just under an hour, speaks for itself.
Pre-order Sloan’s Commonwealth, available Sept. 9, on iTunes.
1. “We've Come This Far”
2. “You've Got A Lot On Your Mind”
3. “Three Sisters”
5. “Neither Here Nor There”
6. “Carried Away”
7. “So Far So Good”
8. “Get Out”
9. “Misty's Beside Herself”
10. “You Don't Need Excuses To Be Good”
11. “13 (Under A Bad Sign)”
12. “Take It Easy”
13. “What's Inside”
14. “Keep Swinging (Downtown)”
15. “Forty-Eight Portraits”
Follow Jesse Kinos-Goodin on Twitter: @JesseKG
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