It’s easy to forget, now, how long it took Sloan’s sophomore jinx-defying classic to find its audience. Before Napster---before Netscape version one, even---Sloan zigged when they were supposed to zag, and delivered the wrong record to their record-label masters. There was no World Wide Web to fall back on, no Plan B to end-run the music to fans. With Geffen refusing to pay for slick videos or meaningful tour support, the record’s most notable Stateside ripple was landing on Spin’s “10 best albums you didn’t hear in ’94” list with a favourable comparison to Guided by Voices. Back home in Canada, Twice Removed took more than four years to go gold.
It might not even be their masterpiece (on One Chord to Another, Navy Blues and, notably, 2006’s Never Hear the End of It they would repeatedly push their own envelope), but it set the template for their self-directed approach to the game of rock. Sonically stripped down---compared to their debut Smeared---and possessed of downbeat lyrics and a melancholy album cover, its profile as Sloan’s serious-ish record has probably helped push it toward the top of various critics’ polls. But the songs hold up impressively.
The arrangements of those songs laid out a new Sloan reference map that spanned decades of rock: a move that initially confounded the shoegazer contingent of their nascent fan base. Early on, the band sought to reassure those fans that the songs were convincingly Sloan when delivered live, a case that they will re-play and doubtless win again with this week’s Pop Explosion retro performance. Twice Removed stands now as one of the most timeless records of the ’90s, an album that evokes the decade without representing any of its commercially successful trends.
Sloan, performing Twice Removed, The Paragon Theatre, midnight, $18