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Album Review: Sleater - Kinney 'No Cities To Love'

 

In a world where the people of the county of Cornwall, UK all pooled together to try and bring beige stadium rockers The Foo Fighters to their distant lands and managed to raise nearly $600,000 in doing so, the return of Sleater-Kinney is not just welcome news, but necessary news. 

In the years since the band originally broke up, aside from Carrie Brownstein's blossoming acting career via the incredible series Portlandia, they have all remained musically active often crossing each others paths.  In many ways, with two thirds of them recording the incredible Wild Flag album in 2011, it's as though they never went away.  Whilst any reformation will always cause my scepticism radar to twitch, something about this one just felt right.  There's no big sponsored tour, they've all been subsequently successful, and they managed to record the album with as little fanfare as when they announced there were "no plans for future tours or recordings".   No Cities To Love comes out ten years after The Woods, and is a no-nonsense, no-fat statement that Sleater-Kinney are back and are ready to save the world again.

At just over thirty two minutes, this is no rambling concept album, nor even does it show progression that may hint at what comes next.  Instead this is a whistle stop showcase of everything that makes Sleater-Kinney one of the best rock bands of a generation, like a best of made from new songs.  The excitement began when new track Bury Our Friends was casually included in their career spanning box set release, and the strength of this track alone was enough to silence anyone who had doubts that this may be an unwise career decision.  With the strength of this album, the same thing could have been said whichever of the ten tracks the chose to return with.

Rock music is nothing new, and as many continually display, it's easy to do, but difficult to make interesting.  Only Sleater-Kinney could open an album with a stomping riff like the one Price Tag is focused around and make a morning routine description sound vital, refreshing and iconic.  Rebecca Black, take note.  It's incredible to think that the sounds across this album are those of a three piece.  Every member of Sleater-Kinney is a powerhouse in their own right, made even more magnificent when combined.  There is nothing more satisfying than hearing the interplay of Corrie & Carrie's voices on the incredibly catchy chorus of A New Wave, their radically differing voices used with the same precision and appropriateness as ever.

In a perfect world, Sleater-Kinney would be the voice of a generation, the stalwarts of rock n roll breathing life into it where it's so desperately necessary.  You'd think ten years between albums may see the band sounding dated, or out of place with a current musical landscape, but if anything they're more relevant than ever.  It's near impossible to play this album through without pressing play again when it finishes, it's the perfect example of how to leave you wanting more.  As far as a statement of returning goes, I can't think of any reformed band that have gotten it this right.  I genuinely can't wait to see what happens next.

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