For Sloan, 4 guys times 30 years equals 12, the band's 12th album in which only the title is uninspired
Latest studio record a mixture of sounds and writing styles from the four songwriters
Even 27 years ago, Sloan was conscious of trying to make timeless music.
The Toronto-based power-pop band's 12th studio record, called 12, is filled with a mixture of sounds and writing styles from the four songwriters — with a push to avoid era-defined rock music.
Singer/songwriter Chris Murphy remembers Sloan's first few records as attempts to write music "that wouldn't be hysterically 1993, 20 years later."
Sloan has tried to keep that same mentality in the songs on the band's latest recording.
That said, Murphy does think the creativity factor fell a bit short with the album title.
"I think that 12 was a somewhat unimaginative," Murphy told CBC's Radio Active on Thursday, the day of Sloan's performance at the Starlite Room in Edmonton.
Murphy wanted to name the album "Essential Services" because, like the police, fire or medical crews, Sloan has been together for so long that they're as essential to Canadiana as the essential services that protect and serve.
"We're not allowed to go on strike, we're not allowed to stop," Murphy said, then added: "I guess the other guys didn't think it was funny enough."
But it's that egalitarian, unanimous approach among the members of Sloan that has allowed the band to maintain its longevity, almost three decades later.
"I'm really proud of the fact that we're the same four guys," Murphy said. The band has done side projects — Murphy just performed in Edmonton six months ago with his band Tuns — but even with their side projects and dad duties, they still find time to get together in the studio.
A mixed bag
To describe Sloan's 12 is like describing a number of their records — it's a bit of a mixed bag. With all four members of the band writing songs on the album, the record has hints of Brit-pop, with a bit of grunge and the power-pop style in which they are most widely described.
All of the Voices sounds like it might have come off Nirvana's fourth record — and writer Patrick Pentland knows that — while other tracks, like Essential Services, boast an ELO-style piano riff that carries the song as one of the standouts.
If it wasn't already clear they were pulling some inspiration from their previous records, their song Don't Stop (If It Feels Good Do It) is close to the name of the opening track of their 2001 record Pretty Together, titled If It Feels Good Do It.
Murphy said other songs, like The Day Will Be Mine, are a look back at what Sloan did with their first record Smeared.
"Lyrically, I don't know what [Pentland, the songwriter] was talking about, but musically, it sort of harkens back to our first record and the time when we thought we were a part of new music," Murphy said.
I'm really proud of the fact that we're the same four guys.- Chris Murphy
Even if the record pulls details from their previous records, Murphy said 12 is still unique — because of who makes up the band.
"What I like about Sloan is the juxtapositions between the different writing styles," he said. "I never have two songs [that I wrote] back-to-back … I think that's what I like."
Catch Sloan Thursday night at the Starlite Room, or in another town near you.