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An Instant Power-Pop Classic, in Twice the Time

Sloan has a talent for brevity, but it knows its way around a rocking epic, too.
Sloan has a talent for brevity, but it knows its way around a rocking epic, too.

Nestled smack in the middle of Sloan's marvelously overstuffed Never Hear the End of It, "I Understand" practically begs to be ignored. It clocks in at nearly five and a half minutes when the average length of the remaining 29 tracks is a cozy 2:27, and its counterparts are often cleverer, to say nothing of rocking harder.

Power-pop has a way of taking care of itself, however, and "I Understand" possesses all the earmarks of an instant light classic. Starting with a sweet and wide-eyed electric piano, it throws itself headlong into a bopping thump as acoustic guitars undergird the sugary, AM-radio-ready lines about the discoveries and promises of innocent, adolescent love.

But "I Understand" changes as it moves along, picking up cymbals, harmonies and wah-wah electrics as it pushes its way to a perfect false ending. The drums stutter their way to a reprise, but the song never loses momentum. Instead, Sloan rides out a squalling guitar solo that gives way to a horn section, which in turn yields to a return of the chorus' harmonies, all over simple chords, in search of power-pop bliss.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Hirsh
Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.