Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Album Review: Sleater-Kinney - No Cities To Love

Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love is a force of nature. It’s 32 minutes of pure empowerment capable of making its listeners plow through every obstacle in their way.

Despite the 10 years that have passed since their last album, the 8th album from the indie rock legends isn’t a nostalgia trip or some radical experiment. These 10 songs feel like a natural extension of the Sleater-Kinney discography coming when it is needed the most.

No Cities To Love repeatedly mentions being held back or restrained — on “Price Tag” the narrator squeezes into her clothes and on “Surface Envy” she talks about guilt weighing her down — and then breaking free. These escapes are powered by self-worth, self-belief and self-efficacy.

“I am raw material, make me plastic make me fuel. I can be, I can be, I can be,” Carrie Brownstein sings on “A New Wave.”

The band knows that this kind of inspiration is hammered home. The record doesn’t ever let up. Every song plows into the next. The short, staccato lyrics delivered with raw, crackling and unrestrained inflection create a thrilling urgency. The guitar work is like lightning - unpredictable and angular, yet somehow organic.

"No Anthems" sizzles and then explodes into a fist pumping, well, anthem. The guitar lines on "Bury Our Friends" — a near perfect song — are nimble, but powerful. Dancing and head banging are both fitting.

All together, it feels like sky diving onto a ski slope then hurtling down it to a motorcycle which you race back up the mountain on just to jump off again.

No Cities To Love is something all its own. This is the kind of music that makes you want to get up and make your dreams happen. Years from now, we could be hearing how Sleater-Kinney inspired a second generation of new musicians and artists.

Sleater-Kinney will play The Ritz in Raleigh on April 22. Tickets are still available for $35.

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