SLOAN - THE GARAGE, LONDON (4/5 Stars)
"If ever 'That '70s Show' is looking for an in-house band (and God knows it needs something to perk up the dreadful script), I think I may have found one. Sloan have surely been beamed in from Planet 1974: four delightfully goofy Canadians with skanky ruffle-worthy hair, skinny-fit T-shirts and a nice line in self-depreciation, grinning insanely like the Monkees on pay day and churning out reams of powerchord-saturated super-melodic tunes.
While it's child's play plucking reference points from a riff-happy show in the arm like "Losing California" - The Who, The Jam, The Beach Boys, you know the drill - Sloan succeed where the dreadful Phoenix fail by sheer enthusiasm and an almost uncannily natural feel for perfect close-harmony singing.
The set takes in aspects from various points in their eight-year career but concentrates on the current, irresistably sunny "Between The Bridges" album; it's only when the chorus of joyous piano-fest new single "Don't You Believe A Word" is still ringing around your head some three full days after you last heard it that you realise quite what refreshing, incisive songwriters Sloan are.
A little over-fond of protracted and momentum-disturbing wildly codas they may be, but the audience sings every word of oldie "Underwhelmed" like it's the Canadian national anthem. There's no escaping that defiantly retro power-pop wins on points. "