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Action Pact [Bonus Tracks]
     

Action Pact [Bonus Tracks]

by Sloan
 

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For more than a decade, this Canadian quartet have been sustenance for power-pop junkies around the world. But with Action Pact, their seventh studio offering, Sloan seem bent on de-emphasizing the second part of that descriptor, bringing power -- in the form of aggressive guitar work and incisive lyrics -- to the fore. The shift in tenor is most palpable on

Overview

For more than a decade, this Canadian quartet have been sustenance for power-pop junkies around the world. But with Action Pact, their seventh studio offering, Sloan seem bent on de-emphasizing the second part of that descriptor, bringing power -- in the form of aggressive guitar work and incisive lyrics -- to the fore. The shift in tenor is most palpable on "Backstabbin'," a riff-driven tune that recalls early Kiss more than the '60s precursors the band have previously revered. Even the disc's harmony-driven cuts pump up the volume, lending an Undertones-esque vibe to the keening "Who Loves Life More?" and "Hollow Head." New producer Tom Rothrock stripped away much of the layered studio trickery that enmeshed 2001's Pretty Together, a focus that plays to the strengths of immediately infectious tracks such as the pro-Canada anthem "The Rest of My Life," as well as darker, more nuanced tunes like the downbeat "False Alarm." The change of gears isn't stark enough to cause unease among Sloan supporters, but it might be sufficient to grease the wheels of Stateside success at last.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Gregory McIntosh
One thing that no one can deny about Sloan is that they can't be ignored as a band always willing to bring out the fun and the rock & roll. They always wear the hearts of their influences proudly on their record sleeves, but never succumb to loss of originality for the sake of trying too hard to impress upon the listener the validity of their roots. Action Pact expands upon Sloan's muscular leanings, due primarily to the band's decision to hire a producer for the first time in its history. Under the direction of Tom Rothrock (producer of artists as diverse as R.L. Burnside, Beck, and Elliott Smith), the songs gel like on no previous Sloan release. The band really plays to its strengths on Action Pact, showcasing remarkably tight vocals, the power of drummer Andrew Scott, and the arena-rocking, bouncy, handclapper songs that defined part of Sloan's post-Navy Blues career. The only noticeable disappointment of this release comes in the decision not to include any compositions by Scott, whose songs have adorned every previous outing by these proud Canadians, but this doesn't really hold back the power and depth of Action Pact; it just seems a bit dishonest to the legacy Sloan have built. Nonetheless, Action Pact is a streamlined album, recorded with minimal overdubs (read no keyboards), which opens in the classic Sloan one-two punch with "Gimme That" and "Live On" by songwriters Chris Murphy and Patrick Pentland respectively. It's on the fifth track, the Jay Ferguson-penned "False Alarm," where the band starts to really stretch out into fresh territory that never lets up the intensity through the rest of the album. The brilliant pop of Pentland's "I Was Wrong," the jerky tension of "Who Loves Life More," and the elliptical "Reach Out" are all magnified by the obvious inspiration Sloan have found while the lovely "Fade Away," which, even with crunchy guitars, manages to hold onto the delicacy Ferguson always brings to the table and provides a perfect album closer. Lyrically, the members of Sloan continue down the more thoughtful path they first explored liberally on Pretty Together, tackling subjects from the troublesome dichotomy the touring musician faces when a hint of desire to settle down emerges to the defensive argument against the critics who charge the band with treading too close to its heroes. Action Pact is another step ahead for Sloan, which is an achievement they should be proud of considering the superb quality they've shown for the better part of a decade. [The U.S. edition of Action Pact contains two bonus tracks, "Will You Ever Love Me Again" and "Step On It, Jean."]

Product Details

Release Date:
05/11/2004
Label:
Koch Records
UPC:
0099923956822
catalogNumber:
9568

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