[a]Sleater-Kinney[/a] are [I]incandescent[/I].
Make no mistake. [a]Sleater-Kinney[/a] are [I]incandescent[/I]. In the three years since their breakthrough third album, ‘Dig Me Out’, saw this corrosive power-trio progress from local favourites to underground heroines, [a]Sleater-Kinney[/a] have eschewed any radical changes in direction, preferring instead to refine their formula into a needle-sharp, unique musical voice.
Like H|sker D| 15 years before them, they’ve fed the same raw elements that have fuelled old skool rock’n’pop since its inception (hooks, riffs, choruses you can’t shake loose) into some punk-rock furnace and are spitting it all back out as their own white-hot, post-hardcore, post-riot-grrrl noise. Listen hard, you’ll hear the roots, but this is something fresh.
There’s not a note or yelp wasted. Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein‘s guitar lines interlock and chime out riffs that ensnare you like spiders’ webs, while Janet Weiss plays her drums like they’re the lead instrument. The uncharacteristically airy, slow-paced opener, ‘Ballad Of A Ladyman’, with Corin relishing every molasses-sticky note and purring each verse, provides a momentary breather before an hour-long pile-up of supertense, superfocused anthem-nuggets.
‘One More Hour’ takes Fugazi slow-dancing, all cheese-wire melodies and surging chorus, as a napalm-throated Corin effortlessly shows the emo-core set how to do ‘broken-hearted’; she howls the chorus, “I need you, I need you”, with such passion, so palpably bereft, that it’s almost uncomfortable to watch.
New single ‘You’re No Rock’n’Roll Fun’ throws an acid-soaked paisley-shaded riff against razor-sharp wry lyricism and a rhythm urgent as a heartbeat, while ‘All Hands On The Bad One’ is a switchblade rumble which draws plenty of blood, evidence of a band who listened to as much Gold AM radio as scratchy poonk seven-inches in their youth.
But what place is there for [a]Sleater-Kinney[/a] in a pop landscape dominated by singing Barbie dolls, tattooed nerd-punx and grunt-rapping quarterbacks? Searingly electrified, fearsomely intelligent, you fear they’ll remain poster children for the indie aesthetic, when they could be [I]exactly[/I] the shock-to-the-system the rock mainstream is begging for. Their caustic primal shimmy just gets fiercer, more accessible, and more irresistible. [a]Sleater-Kinney[/a] are just too damned [I]good[/I] to be ghettoised as some best-kept-secret.