There's a typically Sloan-like joke in the title of the band's eighth studio album, Never Hear The End Of It, which crams 30 songs into 76 minutes, and threatens to send even Sloan fans into power-pop overload. It'll take a strong constitution to weather power chord after power chord, and soaring harmony after soaring harmony, but for those who can hack it, Never Hear The End Of It is a rare thrill: an album brimming with inspiration and energy. It's Sloan's first real swing at enduring rock glory since the majestic 1996-1999 trilogy of One Chord To Another, Navy Blues, and Between The Bridges.
Never Hear The End of It has been broken up into mini-suites, with abbreviated songs often hooking seamlessly together. "Fading Into Obscurity" is the album in miniature, charging from a thick, slow intro into Badfinger chug and back again, before brightening up at the end with a sparkly midtempo coda. These songs don't have a lot of fat, and between the big glam choruses, handclap-aided bridges, zigzag melodies, and fuzzy guitar interplay, Never Hear The End of It plays like a customized accessory for shag-carpeted vans and wood-paneled rec rooms. It's music for the amiably dissatisfied.
"Fading Into Obscurity" is also indicative of the rest of the album in that it sports clunkily self-deprecating lyrics, which is a mode Sloan slips into too easily. And although it's terrific that all four members are talented songwriters with complementary styles, the album does start to run into a rut in its final third, with only the magnificently moody finale "Another Way I Could Do It" standing out from a lot of formlessly heavy anthems and mushy ballads. But even if Never Hear The End Of It isn't as great as the sum of its parts, those parts—so shiny and charmingly hand-made—amount to a tremendous lot.