No Cities to Love
20 January 2015
4.5 stars out of 5
It’s been a decade since we last heard from legendary riot grrrls Sleater-Kinney, in the form of their 2005 monster of an album, The Woods. In the time since then, drummer Janet Weiss became a member of the Jicks, backing up Stephen Malkmus, while Corin Tucker put out two albums under the banner of Corin Tucker Band. And, of course, Carrie Brownstein formed Wild Flag with Mary Timony, and became a household name for her acting skills as the star of Portlandia. October of last year saw Sleater-Kinney release a box set containing their entire remastered discography, including the single “Bury Our Friends,” a teaser from the upcoming album, No Cities to Love.
The album will be out in less than a week, and, to be perfectly frank, it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. For a band with such a quality back catalogue, that’s saying a lot. Tucker and Brownstein interweave their guitar parts with a new urgency. Their compositions seem liberated. They don’t shy away from soaring pop choruses when the opportunity presents itself, such as in “Hey Darling.” If they feel like going intricate and complex, such as in “Fade,” they let themselves do it. If they want to rock out and get down with their social commentary rock ‘n’ roll bad selves, such as in “Price Tag,” they go right ahead and rock the fuck out. And—take this moment to let out a theatrical “gasp!”—if the want to put bass parts in their songs, they do exactly that.
Often when a band reunites after a long hiatus, it’s for nostalgia. Or cash. Or both. Sleater-Kinney’s reunion seems to arisen from the fact that its members had never stopped creating, and had so much energy pent up inside that it was bound to explode into a new album and tour. No Cities to Love will be among the top half dozen or so rock ‘n’ roll albums you hear this year, if not among the top one.
reviewed by Richard Krueger