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Sloan: Parallel Play

Sloan: Parallel Play

Label:Murderecords/yep Roc
Release Date:2008

By Al Shipley | Posted 7/2/2008

Few power pop bands take their Beatles jones so far as to actually have four members that all write and sing lead, and even fewer can boast a quartet of singer/songwriters as evenly matched as Sloan. None of them may be up there with John or Paul, but even their weakest link, drummer Andrew Scott, is no Ringo. Still, the Canadian band, an institution at home but a cult act at best in America, has only begun to highlight its separate talents on its ninth album, Parallel Play. Alternating between the different songwriters, each contributing three or four songs, the album was seemingly devised as formal exercise to keep the band's creative batteries charged after last year's exhilarating and exhausting 30-song Never Hear the End of It.

Surprisingly, the even division of labor is least flattering to the band's more recognizable frontmen, Chris Murphy and Patrick Pentland, who only manage about one memorable song apiece. Instead, it's Jay Ferguson, he of the wispy voice and the band's most obvious disciple of '70s AM radio, who shines most consistently on Parallel Play, with the sparkling hooks of "Witch's Wand" and "Cheap Champagne." Even Scott rises to the occasion, making good use of his limited vocal range for the Dylan pastiche "Down in the Basement," a goofy ramble about the band's DIY roots that turns into a surprisingly poignant affirmation of why they still do what they do, as the members of Sloan head into their 40s.

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