Song of the Week – Underwhelmed, Sloan


Sloan is a Canadian quartet that’s been around for over 20 years but is virtually unknown here in the US. They are a national treasure in The Great White North, right up there with their much more famous rock brethren such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

I first heard of them on a compilation disc I picked up in the very early days of the CD, when titles available on the format were still relatively few. The CD contained the first single, “Underwhelmed,” from their Geffen debut Smeared.

There’s a distinct feature to “Underwhelmed” that makes it a very odd choice for a first single – the lyrics contain no rhymes. Instead, the song is a long narrative about a boy that is infatuated with a girl in his class, but they’re very different. He’s pretty conventional (maybe a geek) and she’s a bit of a rebel. He’s smitten with all of her little peccadilloes – things that she’s totally oblivious to. She couldn’t care less about him. Here’s a sample:

She wrote out a story about her life
I think it included something about me
I’m not sure of that but I’m sure of one thing
Her spelling’s atrocious

She told me to read between the lines
And tell her exactly what I got out of it
I told her affection had two F’s
Especially when you’re dealing with me

I usually notice all the little things
One time I was proud of it, she says it’s annoying
She cursed me up and down and rolled her R’s, her beautiful R’s

This is pure genius. And it’s a pretty fun pop song too. It opens with a sound like a buzzing bee then bursts into psychedelic riffage you might expect to hear from Nirvana or Sonic Youth. The vocal harmonies fit the style of the song and enhance it.

With all four band members writing songs, Sloan is a very prolific group. They’ve released somewhere in the order of 175 songs! Check them out.

Enjoy… until next week.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Underwhelmed, Sloan

  1. Great choice. There was a bit of buzz about Sloan when they hit, but they didn’t hit. I think maybe there was some grunge fatigue at that point. According to Wikipedia, in 2005 the Canadian music magazine Chart’s readers poll named Smeared the best Canadian album ever, ahead of Blue and Harvest.

  2. Sloan ran into record deal problems with Geffen ruining the aura around them at this time in their history. They founded their own label Murder Records. One Chord to Another Navy Blues, Between the Bridges, Never Hear the End of It and The Double Cross are the best of the catalog. For a great live show check out their 4 Nights at the Palais Royale. Rumor has it a new Sloan album may be out sometime this fall or next year.

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