Music review: Sleater-Kinney
No Cities To Love
Sub Pop Records
In 2006 Sleater-Kinney went on what has been described as an “indefinite hiatus,” though they never officially said goodbye. For that reason, 2015’s “No Cities To Love” is more a re-emergence rather than a typical cliched reunion. And they could not have chosen a better time for their re-emergence. Early on the band was by-and-large lumped into the burgeoning indie-rock scene that appeared to be the up-and-coming set to be affiliated with. We’re now living in a time when people could use a powerful reminder of how passionate and ferocious Sleater-Kinney’s transcendent form of rock ‘n’ roll can truly be. Not to mention its relevance in both the scene from which they were born and the world of music at large.
“No Cities To Love” comes equipped with an arsenal of 10 dexterous and astute tracks that imminently culminate into the multifaceted beast that the album proves to be. Overall, “No Cities” is the sound of three effectual musicians who are intent on the retention of their individual self-determination and creating some outstanding rock ‘n’ roll in the process. Thanks to their exceptional musical aptitude and natural songwriting abilities that eclipsed preconceptions of critics earlier on in their career, they’ve crafted a formidable collection of new music with this album. The extracurricular involvements with projects like White Flag, Quasi and vocalist Corin Tucker’s solo turn are bound to have expanded their horizons and each, their own individuality. The material on “No Cities To Love” demonstrates the band’s elevated technical writing and playing abilities, albeit in a casual way, but brilliantly showcased. The frantic nature of their trademark sound is calculated and the deliberate deliverance displays the band’s musical adroitness, just as it allows the music to appeal to the love of the frenetic and chaotic aspects of rock ‘n’ roll.
Many of the songs remain vastly driven and carried by unique guitar riffs that establish countless memorable moments, which lead guitarist Carrie Brownstein and Tucker are literally professionals at creating. They are still constructing and executing the impressive and abstract moments that helped to define them beyond riot grrrl punks. Key riffs in tracks like “Price Tag,” “Surface Envy,” which has a particularly notable opening guitar line that repeats throughout, “A New Wave,” “Bury Our Friends” and especially the title track, “No Cities To Love,” help define the songs and allow them to shine without possessing any kind of second-rate processed disposable hooks. By the same token, “Fangless,” “Gimmie Love” and “Hey Darling” are completely danceable tunes, with thanks largely due to the rhythmic flow of Janet Weiss’s airtight backbeat and her vociferous sonic presence that is both powerful and precise.
It could be said that their tremendous ability to write, arrange and execute, both musically and lyrically, is a key reason Sleater-Kinney has set themselves apart from most of their contemporaries. Along with copious musicianship, their lyrics can be as scathing as they are intelligent and are always dispatched earnestly without the slightest implication of pretense to be detected. Their keenness on civil issues, social consequence, and personal awareness, is ever present; all one need to do is pay attention to some album highpoints like “Hey Darling,” “No Anthems,” “No Cities To Love” and “Fade”, which both closes the album and shines in its own resounding way.
Forget the notion of a comeback album. “No Cities To Love” is the next logical installment in an adept and exquisite catalog; one that will continue to grow if there is any real balance and integrity in our vast universe. When it comes down to brass tacks Sleater-Kinney shouldn’t be known solely for being the seminal influential indie-rock band that they are, or a group of angry women with rock ‘n’ roll cred who know how to play their instruments. With “No Cities To Love” they’ve illustrated, once again, that Sleater-Kinney is a quintessential American rock ‘n’ roll band that doesn’t need any type of validation. Being a rock band who tends to understate high praise and never play the “rock star”, if some institute of status declaration like the Grammys or Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came calling, it wouldn’t be too surprising if they summarily declined.
Review by Joey Cutler who operates and writes for STATIKNOIZE – www.statik-noize.com