Sleater-Kinney reunites after hiatus, produces spitfire album

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“We’re wild and weary but we won’t give in,” shrieks singer, Carrie Brownstein (“Portlandia”) on “Bury Our Friends,” a track off of Sleater-Kinney’s eighth album, No Cities To Love. This seems to be an accurate statement for the band itself, as it has finally returned after an almost 10-year hiatus, bringing with it a burst of punky brilliance and the skill that only a veteran group could hope to create.

Despite coming from a band that came hurtling from the ’90s riot grrrl punk scene, No Cities To Love is not about reminiscing about the rockin’ days past. Instead, this album gives Sleater-Kinney a new reinvention, igniting an inner chemistry and creating new sounds trekking through uncharted territory. The album is composed of 10 short songs that span only 33 minutes, but the tracks do so with a rapid spitfire, get-out-your-dancing-shoes, bust-down-a-door energy. There’s no room for the wistful ballad that Sleater-Kinney has masterfully embraced in the past. Instead, No Cities sees the band powering forward at a breakneck speed, sparing no time to even draw a breath.

The band draws influences from a plethora of sources — whether the inspirations are obvious or not — taking cues from previous punk lords and expeditious guitar heroes. The track “Bury Our Friends,” with its catchy and melodic ramblings, evokes a sense of Franz Ferdinand’s popular guitar riff. Meanwhile, “No Anthems” is propelled forward with a deep and powerful drum beat provided by the drummer, Janet Weiss. Not to be outdone, however, is the grunginess and melodic dissonance of “Fade” that causes us to recall the influence that Sleater-Kinney held during the ’90s era and its identifiable, oft-remembered music scene. Brownstein, contributing to the powerful vocals, plays energetically and bursts with passion, showcasing the fact that she is one of the most talented rock guitarists of our time.

The post-recession jitters in “Price Tag” highlight the new level of thematic depth that Sleater-Kinney has reached after nearly a decade of being in the business. Yet even with such heavy material, the track doesn’t become bogged down with wordy lyrics. Instead, it remains rather light and youthful. The energetic sounds prevail, making this album a real treat to listen to.

“We win, we lose, only together do we break the rules,” Brownstein yells on “Surface Envy.” This has held true for Sleater-Kinney as a unit, emulating the ‘winning,’ rather than the ‘losing.’ Sleater-Kinney has returned with a bang, and it seems like the band is here to stay for good this time.

Contact Kayla Oldenburg at [email protected].

Contact Kayla Oldenburg at [email protected].