The [power pop] aesthetic remains intact on their ninth album, but it also proves the foursome--who alternate songwriting and vocal duties-- have honed their skills to a finely calibrated science. [20 June 2008, p.66]
Sloan have solved their problem by giving each member room to roam, and they're winding up with records that are rich emotionally and musically, illustrating that it is possible for a classicist guitar pop band like Sloan to grow with each passing year.
The album is all over the place, with traces of Queen pop excesses flowing seamlessly with crunching, almost hardcore-punk-tinged guitar rockers and some weird stuff, too. Yet each of the tracks keeps Sloan’s Big Star-sounding power-pop roots intact.
Even those accustomed to Sloan's effortlessness will find the first half of Parallel Play almost flawless. There's still little in the way of artifice or innovation, but it's still easy to admire the architecture.
Parallel Play ends up being a fan’s record: one whose economy and intelligence will delight the Sloan faithful but probably won’t change the band’s fortunes or alter its trajectory with a generation raised on American Idol.
Not as sprawling a set of riches as "Never Hear the End of It," this new album is more in the pop juggernaut category, where each song pulls the listener along in head-bobbing succession--but there’s no less dynamism for that.