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Sloan prove their longevity and enduring creativity on "Between The Bridges", their fifth studio album and sixth full-length release.
Let's start with "Losing California", since it's the first single... my brother thought it sounded like Ace Frehley, an astute observation indeed. Sloan continue their exploration of 70's sounds and arrangements on this track, yet still sound distinctly like Sloan, as we've come to expect based on their exploration of 60's and 70's musical history on their last two studio recordings. "Losing California" is reminiscent of Sloan's pure-pop early days, sort of a sped-up "Sugartune" (from 1993's Smeared). As a single this song admirably fulfils its purpose of stating to the world, "Hey, we're back, and we're still Sloan!"
And the rest of the album? From the 1-2-3 no-pauses-between-tracks attack at the beginning of the album, Sloan shows that their main concern is songwriting, as it always has been, and fans will not be disappointed. The opening chords of the first track "The N.S" immediately reveal that they have not abandoned the piano they took to heart on their previous studio release, and that Andrew's knack for writing a subtle epic has not waned. The novel-yet-eventually-tiresome cut-and-paste arrangements of 1998's Navy Blues have been abandoned this time in favour of actually arranging the songs before they're recorded (or did they just hide the edits better?), a welcome return to grace for fans of Sloan's adept arrangement skills.
Their trademark shared vocal duties continue on this album; can the Kiss-like solo albums be far behind? From straight-ahead romps like "Delivering Maybes" and "Friendship" to mellower numbers like "The Marquee and the Moon", the album is a varied listen from start to finish.
Blending the Sloan sound with influences ranging from Sgt. Pepper to Fleetwood Mac, Frampton to the aforementioned Frehley, "Between the Bridges" is another Sloan blast of fresh air in an often overproduced and overly serious musical landscape, and proves once again that they have earned their coveted place on the Canadian music podium alongside Rush, Trooper and April Wine :-) Ideal Canadian house-party music to get us through the impending winter.
•Stephen K. Donnelly (TuneVault Staff) Email
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