Pretty Together is Sloan's sixth album, released in 2001. The title is an appropriate one, as this is the first as the band is tighter than ever and, for the first time, all of the creative voices are on the same page. Nevertheless, the album's quality is a bit spotty, with the radio hits and a few other gems standing out from failed experiments and filler. Still, Sloan always keeps the fun in rock music, with the better parts of this album making for truly enjoyable listening.
- If It Feels Good Do It (3:55)
Beginning the album with a noisy pseudo-live clip, as with their earlier album One Chord to Another, Sloan soon break into a rolling, traditionalist riff, quickly joined by gleeful harmonised vocals. The biggest radio hit from the album, its infectious energy is encapsulated in the opening shout of "This song is for people who know what rock and roll is about!" At the end of the song, the riff slows down gradually, as if the band are slowly relaxing.
- In The Movies (3:32)
The band attempts to carry on the energy of the first song here, but are not successful, as this song's disjointed lyrics and duller riffs blunt its impact. A quieter, almost a capella break interrupts the big riffs, but to no avail.
- The Other Man (3:52)
The album gets back on track with this strange, vocal-centred piece. The lyrics are the most coherent yet and tell the story of the narrator's love for a woman who's already in a relationship with someone else in Sloan's typical offbeat fashion. Quality instrumental backing carries it through the negativity of many of the lyrics, making it a rather upbeat song, and a minor radio hit.
- Dreaming of You (3:42)
Appropriately dreamy in both instrument and voice, this lovely ballad puts an accepting, relaxed face on loving someone from a distance, either outside of a relationship or in a long-distance relationship. The clear upper-register harmonies recall The Beatles and make this one a personal favourite.
- Pick It Up And Dial It (3:34)
Sloan's attempt at a Kiss-style rock anthem, this song brings together the elements but eventually proves to be unmemorable.
- The Great Wall (3:09)
This song is a downtempo number, whose instrumentation's repose is contrasted with by the big, echoey vocals. Like several other songs on this album, the lyrics lack coherence, which proves to be a fatal flaw given their prominence.
- The Life Of A Working Girl (3:45)
This melancholy acoustic song features the most well-developed lyrics on the album, with spot-on scansion and rhyme, telling a coherent story. The hopeless fumbling of the title character makes a truly sad picture, telegraphed through the compassion of the narrator.
- Never Seeing The Ground For The Sky (4:46)
Another song in the tone of Pick It Up And Dial It, this song has its moments and a good groove, but ultimately fails.
- It's In Your Eyes (4:29)
Bright and bassy, this song marries clean vocal harmonies to shuffling guitar licks and shifting drum lines. With the addition of synthesizers in the second half of the song, some of the most interesting sonic textures on the album are built up, leading to a suprisingly minimalist instrumental conclusion.
- Who You Talkin' To? (4:29)
Sunny guitars and strings back up this, the best song in the second half of the album. Calm, clean, sing-along vocals build into a slow, but achingly beautiful verse and chorus. Harder drumming and guitar work highlight the bridge of the song, providing a welcome variation in intensity, and upon the return to the verse the vocals are accompanied by the best bass line on the album. This all leads to a joyful, if rapid, finish.
- I Love A Long Goodbye (3:07)
Vocal-led and suitably final-sounding, this song eventually develops into a textured song worthy of the band members' talents. Nevertheless, it ends with the feel of filler.
- Are You Giving Me Back My Love? (3:18)
With all the plaintiveness that the title implies, the performance of this song hits the appropriate emotional buttons. The material in this song is spread a little thin, but it is otherwise a relatively good Sloan song.
- Your Dreams Have Come True (3:24)
This song is a functional, but forgettable closer to the album. A trumpet joins in about halfway through, but merely fades into the background, along with most aspects of this song.
Overall, this album is a competent, if filler-heavy, effort by Sloan. After this album, they would further polish and harden their sound, leading to the greater focus of their 2003 album Action Pact.
This writeup is copyright 2005 D.G. Roberge and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial licence. Details can be found at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/ .