Toronto-based band Sloan has been pumping out albums for over 20 years — and they aren’t slowing down now.
For the group’s eleventh album, Commonwealth, each of the band’s four members wrote one side of the double-album, with each solo side the name of a suit of cards: Diamond, Heart, Shamrock and Spade.
Diamond has a lighter pop feel. It opens with the
beat-driven “We’ve Come This Far” and works its way into your head with the easy harmonies in “You’ve Got A Lot On Your Mind” and “Cleopatra.”
Heart sounds more psychedelic while maintaining Sloan’s trademark harmonies. “You Don’t Need Excuses To Be Good” feels like classic rock and leads nicely into the Shamrock side of the album.
Shamrock becomes more intense with cocky lyrics and features more heavily distorted guitars. “Keep Swinging (Downtown)” calls to mind classic 70s rock while lightening its tone by bringing in the smooth harmonies of Diamond and Heart in the chorus.
Spade starts as an absolute cacophony with the near 18-minute long “Forty-Eight-Portraits” that concludes the LP. Although the beginning of the track can bring a headache, it quickly evolves into an intriguing track by constant changes in pace and timing.
Although the structure of the album makes the music somewhat disjointed, it boasts Sloan’s ability to be a unified pop-rock group while maintaining each member’s individuality and the unique listening experience is a pleasure.