Sleater-Kinney are back.
It’s been nine years since the Pacific Northwestern riot grrrls said their supposed goodbye with their cataclysmic 2005 release of their album The Woods. After their noisy finale that was near bursting at the seams with both bitterness and sweetness, the reunion album was destined to be a tough act to follow.
Never has Janet Weiss’s drumming been tighter, Corin Tucker’s wail more haunting, and Carrie Brownstein’s guitar licks so razor sharp. Not a note is out of place or a guitar solo overbearing. Weiss, always the underrated secret weapon of the group, keeps the album going at lightning speed throughout with few breaks to catch a breath in between.
Fortunately, they manage to pick up right where they left off, leaving the interim period unscathed as they make up for lost time. “Price Tag,” the album’s blitzkrieg opener, blazes through the economic recession of the late ‘00s. “A New Wave” fuses Brownstein and Tucker’s complementary vocals and guitar work in a beautiful call and response between the pair. “It’s not a new wave / It’s just you and me,” they sing together.
For a group that declared in 1996, “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone,” it’s pleasing to see them continue to push the envelope almost 20(!) years later. Their formula has always been their sisterhood, embracing the “otherness” within rather than being at ease with the “girl band” label so many tried to (and still) reduce them to. No Cities is about legacy, age, a movement — a testament to Sleater-Kinney’s revolution — and a reminder that the fight is hardly over.