The experience of listening to Sloan’s latest album, Never Hear the End of It, is so diverse and interesting that it almost becomes a chore as the 76-minute album nears its close. Far more a team effort here than on recent releases, Never Hear the End of It is the logical product of four extremely talented gentlemen contributing a wide variety of music and lyrics. Their 10th release takes no prisoners or pauses for the majority of its runtime, which keeps the energy level of the band’s garage-pop sound high for the duration.
It’s that very steadfast approach, though, that dooms the outfit in the end, ultimately leaving dozens of interesting riffs and tangents unexplored. As 11 of the album’s 30 tracks ring in under two minutes long, fragmentary pieces of the puzzle prove to be the norm rather than the exception. Sloan creates something that will likely appeal to a very wide audience, with obvious influences ranging from The Beach Boys to Nirvana. The downfall of such an approach is the feeling that the album is a mile wide, an inch deep, and not Sloan but a pastiche of what Sloan can be. An album featuring this many songs essentially needs to choose: do the songs flow together lyrically to create a story, or do they simply sound good next to each other? While both would be ideal, the quartet focuses more on the latter path and arranges their diverse disc well, as songs that wouldn’t normally go together are meshed extremely well by the stray drum solo or tailing instrumentals.
If nothing else, the album is exceedingly listenable; their strangely familiar album cover is matched with a sound that is easy to pick up but also individual. And though the songwriting has its gems (“Someone to watch Gremlins 2 with/Someone not to watch The View with” is an early candidate for couplet of the year), it more often than not makes a more compelling read than listen. What the boys of Sloan are singing at any given time is far less important than how those lyrics sound over the tunes. The varied sound keeps the album fresh, though, and its form is at the very least consistent with the band’s feedback-heavy, rambunctious live performances.