Recently, a number of bands in hiatus have crept back out, from what seems like nowhere, and taking the music scene with a storm: releasing a new album to acclaim, a big tour, maybe even an interview or two. Sleater-Kinney, one of the best rock bands of the late ’90s and early ’00s, is a prime example.
Last year, the band announced a vinyl box set of their discography. An unforeseen addition was a seven inch single, with what fans quickly found to be a new song. It was marked only with a date, “1/20/2015”, and like fire it spread the band could be releasing new music.
The newly reformed Sleater-Kinney soon announced their new album would be released on this date. And so here it is, No Cities to Love.
For me, this is my first real listen to a Sleater-Kinney album, and it was a tour-de-force. They are a focused punk band, and the best sort: they have great riffs, a lead singer (Corin Tucker) whose delivery is demanding shouts, with lyrics ranging from personal conflict to the ever prominent social and political commentary, and a devil may care attitude.
Just with the opening track, “Price Tag”, I was gripped by the band’s velocity, how the riffs ripped into my ears and Tucker’s voice narrated cynicism of a day in the life of a store worker. A treatise opens in the bridge, taking the story to deeper insights, like “I was blind by the money / I was numb from the greed”.
It opens the album very well, with each song building up to the first single, “Bury Our Friends”. This was apparently the last song recorded for this album, but easily the best. It tears the listener up with a killer frenzy of guitars and drums matching the calm storm of Tucker’s vocals. I can visualize with each listen the sneers shes making, the middle finger she’s giving the Man, declaring “we live on dread in our own gilded age”.
There were a few tracks where I personally didn’t get anything from them, like forlorn love song “Hey Darling” or mood killer “A New Wave”, which gets sandwiched between two good songs. Even then, this album reveals not only a return to form but a certain amount of evolution.
Three piece bands are hard to pull off; but when you have a trio like Sleater-Kinney, and make as much noise as them, whether its volume or commentary, you’ve better watch out.
Anthony Campbell // Staff Writer