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Album Review: Sleater Kinney – No Cities to Love

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Sleater Kinney has had incredible staying power, as their new release, No Cities to Love, is the band’s first in 10 years. The band which has its roots in the ’90s DIY and riot grrrl scene in America’s Pacific Northwest has made consistently great music and achieved a hybrid level of commercial and independent success without becoming a nostalgic arena rock staple like some other ’90s bands from Washington (here’s looking at you, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters). The band’s 10-year hiatus gave its members a chance to pursue other creative avenues, but the three come back together seamlessly in No Cities to Love, a pseudo-reunion album with impressive force.

Sleater Kinney continues with its unique combination of personal and political content. Album-opener “Price Tag” grabs the listener from the get-go with an assertive distorted riff reminiscent of its 2005 album, The Woods, and tells a tale of day-to-day living in the age of the Great Recession and austerity. On the other side of the political-personal spectrum, “Gimme Love” turns a personal need and insecurity into a message of strength. However, despite its lyrical strength, it is the least satisfying track on the album, featuring a stuttery chorus that kills the song’s momentum.

Corin Tucker’s voice combines with imposing riffs, thus grounding the album and pummelling the listener in the gut. Vocal unisons between Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein create some of the album’s soaring moments like in the intro and chorus of “No Cities to Love” and the anthemic end of ironically titled “No Anthems.” If you like distorted guitars and drums or have listened to rock in any of its forms, give it a listen.

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