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Tears for Fears spent four years trying to come up with something comparable to The Big Chair, but Smith and Orzabal basically basically fell apart under the pressure.

Whilst The Seeds of Love is over-produced and pompous as hell, the album is by no means a washout, as it does sound nice. The production, while very dated and heavy-handed, is both the album's gift and its curse, because while it dresses up otherwise low-grade material to sound like top tier output, it gets in the way of other songs that are actually good.

The Big Chair was over-produced in just the right way, where the production brought out everything good about its songs without teetering into unnecessary layers for their own sake, whereas this album does that a lot. What with the forced-sounding jazzy flourishes, unnecessary lead guitar riffs, and downright cheesy background vocals, it all sounds a bit offputting at first.

Still, the title track gets it right - that's the one tune where the production flourishes don't matter - they could've put a farting synth sound in one of the middle eight breaks and it would still be a triumph (Wait! They actually did do that!).

There are some other good choons as well - "Advice for the Young at Heart", and the perfectly melodramatic "Swords and Knives", making The Seeds of Love a bigger more grandiose follow up to The Big Chair - not as good overall, but still worth hearing.

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by Reviewer: Austin

Posted: Sunday 22nd Jul 2018 8:49 AM
Recent album review
Sloan - Smeared (1993)

Hailing from Halifax in Nova Scotia, Sloan are the greatest band to come out of Canada, and - unlike contemporaries and competitors such as Nirvana, Radiohead, and Tool - they weren't preoccupied with silly things like innovation, experimentation, influence, or breaking new ground.

Sloan instead put all their focus into making solid, consistent, and highly enjoyable albums. Comprising four talented musicians who all contribute to the songwriting, the band's music is entrenched in the basics of great pop - melody, harmony, and arrangement.

Occasionally dubbed as a power/pop band, Sloan's music is much too diverse for such over-simplifications. There are after all four songwriters, each with his own distinct style ...

Quasi-leader Chris Murphy (bass, vocals) wrote the majority of the songs on the early records, and his stuff is generally hook-laden and lyrically clever (even bordering on smart-ass). He's the most 'power/pop'-type writer in the band, and his bass playing is good too.

Guitarist Patrick Pentland is my favourite band member, as he's always finding a unique hook or a catchy riff, and providing good rhythm guitar work. Jay Ferguson, the other guitarist and an avid record collector, writes super-melodic soft/rock-type songs that are typified by his girlish voice.

Drummer Andrew Scott seems to be the weirdo of what is already an off-the-wall band, writing odd songs that are often great, and wearing a fake mustache in videos (well, at least one, but it's pretty funny). He also plays mean drums, favouring his crash cymbal over his ride, and sounding a lot like Keith Moon while at it.

Had Sloan stuck with the approach they took on this their first full-length album however, I wouldn't have bothered with any more of the band's output. For while there are moments on Smeared where there's a sense of the great things to come, it's essentially a monotonous and boring early-90's guitar record.

The musical interplay that would surface so prominently on future Sloan albums is nowhere to be found here, with nearly every song following the same dull structure - chugging eight-notes on the rhythm guitar and bass, annoying feedback on the lead, and Scott thrashing away on his cymbals and snare, yet barely audible over the noisy and ugly guitars.

The overall guitar tone is awful, very uninviting. There are admittedly clear melodic hooks and moments of pleasure on the single "Underwhelmed" and "Median Strip", but generally the vocal parts are mundane and sung in an annoying manner.

One of the best things about Sloan's better albums is the way each singer's character comes through, but on Smeared Murphy sings nearly every song, and he sounds as faceless as those guys from Goo Goo Dolls or Creed. Not good.

So Sloan's first album sucks. Thankfully, the band would soon head in a more melodic direction and begin their string of great albums that would carry them right through the 1990's and beyond.

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by Reviewer: Marco Marco

Posted: Sunday 22nd Jul 2018 9:08 AM
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