This Halifax quartet has slogged through a lot of industry bullshit in the last few years--Geffen gave 'em the boot after two albums, causing a temporary breakup, and when the band reformed several months later and released a third album, its U.S. label, the Enclave, went under. These trials have taught Sloan that DIY can be good business, and the group's fourth and latest album, Navy Blues, was released on its own Murderecords. Unfortunately Sloan's music is increasingly anything but do-it-yourself: although influences from My Bloody Valentine to the Beatles to the Zombies have always been apparent, on Navy Blues the hero worship gets out of hand. Whether its appropriations are in good taste (the AC/DC rip-off "Money City Maniacs") or bad (the interpolation of something that sounds a lot like Orleans' "Still the One" on "Iggy & Angus"), much of the album plays like a game of name that plagiarism. Worse, in trying to sound like those they admire, vocalists Patrick Pentland and Chris Murphy have pushed their limited abilities to the breaking point. Their harmonies on the band's second album, Twice Removed, were gorgeous in part because they stayed within a natural range, but on the new album Pentland and Murphy too often shoot for Lennon and McCartney and miss. Still, if you love pop you won't be able to help liking Navy Blues--it's crammed with exuberant hooks and giddy melodies. I just wish Sloan could get the job done without all the cloying role-playing. Tokyo Expando (see Spot Check) and Sarge open; Tuscadero headlines. Tuesday, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. Sloan also plays an hour before show time at Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 773-404-5080. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Richard Beland.