A decade ago, alt-rock, all girl ass kickers Sleater-Kinney signed off with The Woods. A record that I described as, “loud, urgent and soaring”. The kinds of things that I expect are hard to maintain, or recapture. So when it was announced that Sleater-Kinney were getting beck together, I had to wonder if they’d still be able to capture that. 10 years and several bands later for everyone concerned, would No Cities to Love be loud, urgent and soaring?
Would it offer up some new, mature, but just as awesome take on things? Or would it make Sleater-Knney fans wish their favourite band had remained a memory? Well, the album came, was pretty universally loved by music critics and seemed to live up to its place as a worthy addition to the band’s discography. So now that I’m pretty sure I’m not taking any sort of risk at all, I listened to No Cities to Love.
The distorted bass heavy Price Tag is an early sign that 10 years away from the moniker has done nothing to slow down Sleater-Kinney or smooth over any of their edge. And Corin Tucker’s voice is as powerful as ever. Combined with the familiar Carry Brownstein staccato approach to guitars on Fangless, and No Cities to Love is quickly shaping up to be exactly what I want from a reunion album. Enough of the old vibe to still be the same band I liked, but a freshness that shows they haven’t been stagnating in the years in between.
Another great thing about this record is that so much of it is straight up rock and roll. Surface Envy, the title track and A New Wave are simple, to the point rockers. And while the band’s often unique approach to rhythm and timings is one of their real strengths, it’s a nice surprise to hear things kept a little more basic here. A weirdness that’s embraced to awesome effect on No Anthems.
If any rock fan has ever been hesitant to try Sleater-Kinney based on their all girl lineup, thinking (for some reason) that the lack of wieners means a lack of oomph, listen to Buy Our Friends. This is some boot stomping, fist pumping R-O-C-K, and it never lets up for a second.
As closing track Fade, fades out, I realise that my initial impressions of No Cities to Love, were pretty spot on. No Cities to Love is exactly what I want from a reunion album. It has enough of the old vibe to still be the same band I liked, but a freshness that shows they haven’t been stagnating in the years in between.