Between the Bridges
First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2000, Volume 7, #3
Written by John Metzger
Sloan may be the best band to ever creep out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Ok, so that’s not saying much, but they really are on the verge of something bigger. Perhaps, in the not so distant future, they just might hit the high aspirations that they’ve been striving to attain.
There’s no question that Sloan’s fifth album Between the Bridges is a huge endeavor for a young group. The song cycle is a loosely-based band bio that plays out like a rock opera as one song bleeds into the next.
The album opens with The N.S. — a Beatles-meets-Beach Boys excursion worthy of XTC, and it concludes with the Ben Folds Five-meets-They Might Be Giants-driven pop of Delivering Maybes. In between, the group dabbles in raucous bombast à la Jane’s Addiction (Sensory Deprivation), an intriguing blend of The Who’s Tommy and The Velvet Underground’s infectious punk-pop (Take Good Care of the Poor Boy), and Jayhawks-tinged country-rock (A Long Time Comin’).
Yet, for all of Sloan’s grand schemes and disparate styles, Between the Bridges just doesn’t quite work as well as it should — especially when compared with Wilco’s Summerteeth. While the latter group turned in an absolute masterpiece on which they molded every influence that they could into their own image, Sloan still clings a bit too closely to what came before them. In addition, while Summerteeth came together as a cohesive whole, Between the Bridges doesn’t fully gel.
That’s not to say that Sloan won’t eventually reach their destination. It just means that they’ve got a long distance yet to travel, but at least with Between the Bridges, they’re on the right road.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box