Band reunions are often a bitter cash grab. As a die-hard Doolittle fan, it pains me to think of the Pixies’ whitebread post-2003 releases. The same goes for the latest incarnations of Sebadoh and even Neutral Milk Hotel. The greats of the ‘90s aren’t what they used to be.
The Sleater-Kinney revival, however, strikes of a different sort of rekindling. After twelve years on the job as Riot-grrrl progenitors, their breakup in 2006 was understandable. The ladies in the trio had personal ambitions—perhaps the most notable were those of frontwoman Carrie Brownstein, who became more famous through Portlandia than she’d ever been as a rock star.
No Cities To Love, Sleater-Kinney’s first album since 2006’s masterpiece The Woods, takes a good hard look at what it means to be revered in the past tense. The sing-song “Hey Darling” blares that “the only thing that comes from fame is mediocrity…sometimes the heat of the crowd feels a little too close.” The words drip with lived truth.
The title track might sound like a depressing ode to gritty, bohemian cities of the past, but it’s no “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.” It’s delivers, instead, an uplifting sentiment—it’s not the city you should love, but your friends.There’s no sense being lonely in Los Angeles when everyone who loves you is in Albuquerque.
No Cities To Love isn’t an album that sounds dramatically different from Sleater-Kinney’s previous work, but that’s not the important part. They’re back, and they’re playing guitars that shred as finely as ever and drums that smack just like they did back in 1996.
Sleater-Kinney are still kicking dirt at the notion that three women can’t be the best rock band in the world, and thank god that’s the case.
Voice’s Choices: “Hey Darling” “A New Wave”