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Sloan | Action Pact
A jade jett review

 

Take off, eh! That's what I say to all you hosers who think us Canadians a bunch of beer and maple syrup swilling, beaver swaddled, zamboni driving, igloo dwelling peaceniks. And while there are far too many Canadian stereotypes to list in a 500-word review, I respectfully submit the band Sloan to the lexicon of all things reeking of The Great White North.

Canada boasts an impressive range of musical talent: Danko Jones, The Tragically Hip, Peaches, Rufus Wainwright, Broken Social Scene, The Constantines as well as international MOR chart-toppers such as Celine, Alanis, Avril, Shania and Bryan. And who can forget old-school rockers such as Loverboy, The Guess Who, BTO, Neil Young, and Rush? Yet no one rocks harder than Sloan, the poster boys for the consummate Canuck band, breeding rabid worship from their adoring fan-base. If you're not familiar with the name, you might have caught a listen to their infectious sugar tunes sprinkled liberally throughout the movie, The Virgin Suicides. Need I say more? Anyone who's checked out Lost in Translation knows that Sophia Coppola is one of the hottest film directors of the new millenium. Hand-picking Sloan as the musical backdrop for her first full-length feature is a testament to their talent (and hers).

Twelve songs in 39 minutes assures the album's deserving play-on-words title, "Action Pact" (they have made a pact and it's packed!)! It's a completely Canadian album recorded in a unabashedly American setting: Los Angeles; a paradise both lost and found. Home to The Beach Boys and Motley Crue, wheatgrass and silicon, Walt Disney and Charles Manson; where the rich and famous glide and collide up against lost angels on the boulevard of broken dreams. This irony is not lost on the Sloan boys who share a distinct affinity with these dualities. Originally hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Toronto-based foursome vacillate from churning out light pop confections as well as teeth-rattling monster rock tracks, both equally impressive in their respective capacities.

From the first note off the opening track, "Gimme That," heavy guitars and flawless harmonies make up that irresistibly distinctive yet timeless Sloan sound: a delightful blend of straight-ahead late 60's early/70's pop rock married with a British invasion vibe and Beach Boys background vocals. "Backstabbin'" boasts an AC/DC intro coupled with Kiss chants and a glammy chicks with dicks sentiment that proudly raises its middle finger with a hellraisin' sneer.

Their first single, "The Rest of My Life" slaps a Turtles "Happy Together" vibe up against a Beatles "Got To Get You Into My Life" groove, marrying gorgeous uplifting vocals with a late sixties style. And when they state with proud patriotism, "One thing I know about the rest of my life, I know that I'll be living it in Canada," the irony of recording this song in the U.S. brings home Sloan's natural affinity for contradiction.

Hats off to a band that can borrow from the influences listed above while mixing it up with artists as diverse as Foreigner, The Ramones, early Eagles, New Order, Roxy Music, The Psychedelic Furs, Grand Funk Railroad and The Monkees while sounding completely like themselves. Definitely worth a turn on the tables. If you're not convinced that you should pick up their whole back catalogue, it's aboot time you were properly introduced. I strongly urge you to get your mitts on a copy of Navy Blues and Twice Removed as well. Now take off.


 

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