No Cities to Love
Jan 22, 2015 Web Exclusive
In the chorus of "A New Wave," halfway through Sleater-Kinney's new comeback album, No Cities to Love, Carrie Brownstein sings "No one here is taking notice/No outline will ever hold us/It's not a new wave, it's just you and me." Serving as a mission statement of sorts for the new stage of the trio's career, the line backs up statements Brownstein has made in recent interviews. The band, she says, is only reuniting now because it feels natural, and that the music contained on No Cities to Love exists simply because it needed to exist. A couple of seconds later, she continues: "Invent our own kind of obscurity." While anything but obscure, Sleater-Kinney has always occupied a comfortable niche. They're highly respected and have made a massive impact on indie rock, but have spawned very few imitators. Nobody else sounds like Sleater-Kinney, and that's why we are so lucky to have them back. No Cities to Love is a hell of a comeback record.
Sleater-Kinney's last album, 2005's The Woods, was a loud, ambitious storm of classic rock that threatened to engulf any audience. It was a departure of sorts for the trio, and remains their most divisive release. No Cities to Love reins in much of that album's structural adventurousness, sticking mostly to three-minute power-pop tunes. The emphasis here is on "power"—all three women here are clearly giving everything they've got. Corin Tucker has always been a howler, but here she really lets loose. Carrie Brownstein is one of rock guitar's most inventive players, and the complete mastery evident in her unique style is the most unifying force through these 10 memorable tracks. And it's time for Janet Weiss to be recognized as one of the greats in absolute skin-bashing rock drumming. Listening to No Cities to Love, it's hard not to feel that in a perfect world Sleater-Kinney would be selling out huge arenas like Led Zeppelin did in the '70s.
Taken individually, many of these songs would fit on a best-of compilation, alongside songs from 1997's Dig Me Out and the subsequent 1999 release The Hot Rock. Brilliance notwithstanding, it's really best to experience No Cities to Love on its own terms, rather than by comparison to past classics: as a loud, exciting, barely-half-hour rock record. Its simplicity is matched by its richness and vitality. It's only January, but the world of music in 2015 will be lit by the fire of No Cities to Love's punk spirit all year long. (www.sleater-kinney.com)
Author rating: 8.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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