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Sloan: Commonwealth

Canada’s ELO kiddies go gunmetal crazy.

What a weird hybrid this is. A quasi-concept album wherein each member takes up a side of tunes and the sound zigzags from straight down-the-line power pop to soft rock, Sonic Youth like mayhem and a final suite of organised chaos, Commonwealth is both wilful and great fun.

Jay Ferguson (nothing to do with the Spirit man) kicks off with his grown up teenybopper fixation on We’ve Come This Far and the Cheap Trick-esque Three Sisters. His 60s psych skills are balanced neatly by Chris Murphy’s stab at the controls and turns out he’s running a book on 80s new wave with a classy undercurrent of West Coast harmonising.

Irish-born Patrick Pentland then has the chance to get rock angry hog wild on 13 (Under A Bad Sign) and the molten Keep Swinging (Downtown) before drummer Andrew Scott indulges himself on the non-stop Forty-Eight Portraits, chucking prog, children’s choir and doom keyboards into the ring.

This baffling mixture of the anarchy and the ecstasy takes some pulling off but the quartet has perfected the alchemical reaction. Entertaining misters Sloan.

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.