The Double Cross
by Noel Murray
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the latest album by Canadian power-pop favorite Sloan, unless it’s a problem for a band to retrace its own steps. Titled The Double Cross in honor of Sloan’s 20th (or XXth) anniversary, the new record clocks in at a tight 34 minutes (like 2008’s brisk Parallel Play), consists largely of short songs and fragments (like 2006’s teeming Never Hear The End Of It), and lets those songs bleed together (like 1999’s masterful Between The Bridges). As always, Sloan shifts on a dime from the pretty melodies of songs like the Big Star-y “Green Gardens, Cold Montreal” to the frenzied rock-outs of “It’s Plain To See” and “I’ve Gotta Know.” The Double Cross opens in a cheerful mood with the tambourine shimmy of “Follow The Leader,” and it stays in shiny, giddy mode almost all the way through, continuing Sloan’s usual method of borrowing liberally from ’60s garage-rock, ’70s arena-rock, and ’80s new wave. (One song, “Traces,” even sounds like something that could’ve been produced by Jeff Lynne’s late-’80s Wilbury factory, which is something a little different for Sloan.) There’s no real attempt here to tamper with the formula, or to use it toward some grander theme. The Double Cross is just an unapologetic celebration of Sloandom, and a safe place for those who believe good dual-guitar breaks–like the ones on the stomping “Unkind”–are the reason why we’re here on Earth.