Sloan – Between the Bridges

Between the Bridges

I have been a Sloan fan for years, but this album really burned my gut like a bad burrito. Many know the story of Sloan’s signing to Geffen and then being promptly kicked off for less-than-Nevermind sales. Yes, it was sad to see such a good band given no room by the majors to develop. Granted, they’re pissed off, and these feelings were thoroughly covered on their last album with “Money City Maniacs” and “On The Horizon” (from the excellent Navy Blues album). But, like a dog with a dirty sock, they just won’t let it go. Sloan seems to be so bitter about the music industry that they can’t stop singing about how much it sucks for five minutes. As a result, this album sounds like a band that couldn’t give two shits. Fellas, everyone knows it sucks! This is hardly groundbreaking news.
The songs are well-written and catchy, if not original, Badfinger-esque ditties, but the lyrics betray the upbeat mood of the songs. In the song “So Beyond Me,” we have this sample: “So now I feel it’s time to rock / Now that we’re out of the hole / We’re only running down the clock.” And on “All By Ourselves,” Sloan insults their own fans: “Keeping in mind I believe we’re history makers / please tell me who you think you’re affecting / But the do-it-yourselfers are preparing for that one too / keep dreaming ’cause I know you’re collecting.” Sheesh! If Sloan doesn’t believe in what they’re doing, then why should the listener? Maybe they should get day jobs like everyone else and make some real money. The overall attitude is that Sloan feels they got screwed, and their contempt for their trade oozes through every note, even on the rare occasions when they sing about something else.
I’ve got troubles of my own, so why would I want to hear about Sloan’s industry burnout? Only musicians can understand these problems, and not everyone plays in a band (although it seems like it these days). I certainly wouldn’t buy an album to hear a bunch of ex-stock brokers complain about the Dow. Don’t waste your talent, guys! Rock and roll should be a joyful artistic expression, and if it ceases to be that, you should probably quit. There are hundreds of bands out there right now sleeping in their vans at the rest stop that would kill to trade places with you. Let’s see, Sloan owns their own record label and gets all profits, their record is available almost everywhere in the world, they have complete artistic and creative control of their music … times sure are tough, aren’t they? Sloan should be thrilled that they get to leave Canada every year. Thumbs down on this pity party.