Be careful what you wish for. Bands coming back from the dead is one thing, but how much do we want them to give us? Playing live and doing some old is fine and all that, yet how often does it translate into new material that anyone actually wants to hear. Have the Pixies enhanced their reputation since their return over the past ten years, especially with Indie Cindy? I’ll give you a moment to mull that one over.
And so to Sleater-Kinney, back with us after a mere eight years. After Wild Flag brought two of their three members together and last year’s Start Together boxset rounded up the past, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss have pretty much picked up where they left off. Well to a certain extent. The truth is that they have returned stronger than ever and with probably the best record of their career.
Right from the off, the fiery ‘Price Tag’, No Cities To Love hits you and it hits you hard. Producer John Goodmanson, the man behind a number of their previous releases, has managed to update their sound whilst losing none of its core ingredients. The guitars dart all over the place (although, for a band without a bass player, there’s a lot of bottom end here) and Tucker’s vocals are still on the shrill, punk rock end of the scale, yet it never becomes inaccessible or harsh of listen.
It helps that the songs are just so bloody fantastic. They’re exactly what you’d want from an older Sleater-Kinney, just as passionate as they were twenty years ago but tempered with experience. “I’ve grown afraid of everything that I love”, they admit on the insanely catchy title track, ironically sounding totally fearless in the process. And being in this band is clearly what these three women love the most – how else could they come up with such an inspired, effecting piece of work at this stage in their career. The line “it’s not a new wave, it’s just you and me” perhaps says it all, placing personal relationships above any notion of musical status.
Having saved their band by taking control and just stopping when it didn’t feel right any more, they’ve picked up again because it was what they wanted to do. The results are a record that you’ll want to hear start to finish when they visit here in the Spring, as opposed to simply being the awkward moments in a dead eyed greatest hits set. The story isn’t that Sleater-Kinney are back, it’s that Sleater-Kinney are just brilliant.