Sleater-Kinney still have plenty on their minds and plenty of venom and rancor to force a rock revival.Sub Pop, 2015
9.0 / 10
After 2005’s The Woods, Sleater-Kinney took nearly a decade break from one another. Guitarist Carrie Brownstein wrote a music blog for NPR and became a television star on IFC’s Portlandia, singer Corrin Tucker released two solo albums and drummer Janet Weiss joined Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. When Weiss and Brownstein formed Wild Flag in 2010 and released an album and toured together again, whispers began to circulate about a reunion. It took a few more years, but the band has finally gotten back together and given the world another great big helping of kick ass rock-n-roll in No Cities To Love.
The album opens with “Price Tag”, an angry and glorious takedown of commercialism, a frequent target of S-K throughout the years. Through Brownstein’s blasting guitar and the rumbling of Weiss’ drums, Tucker rages, “The cost comes in/ It’s gonna be high/ We love a good bargain/ We love the price is so low/ The good job’s gone/ It’s gonna be rough”. Tucker has lost none of her riot grrrl fire and whatever she’s fed up with, she makes damn sure you know about it. Her voice (along with occasional harmonies with Brownstein) maintains its energy and ferocity throughout the ten tunes on the album, even on pop-friendly fare like “Hey Darling”. Brownstein and Tucker’s guitar work also hasn’t dulled from disuse during the time off. If anything, it sounds more organic, more in union than ever before. Album closer “Fade” is an absolute beauty of soaring, harmonized guitars, and maybe the best song on the album; although, a case could be made for any of the other nine songs being the best.
Rock-n-roll has died a thousand deaths, been reborn a thousand more, but never has it seemed more in need of a revival than now. There will (hopefully) always be good and occasionally great singers, virtuoso guitarists, amazing drummers and skilled rappers. What seems to be in doubt is if these musicians will have anything worthwhile to say. Sleater-Kinney still have plenty on their minds and plenty of venom and rancor to force a rock revival. Wild and unabashed aggression is extremely uncommon in music today. It seems almost every one walks around on eggshells, fearful of taking stands, trying their best to not offend anyone, content to make bland background music that requires little effort to digest and even less to ignore. Sleater-Kinney, as they always have done, refuse to tread softly and refuse to stay silent.