Anyone born too late for the riot-grrrl movement might not understand how vital Sleater-Kinney are to rock. In the mid-1990s, the trio broke into a Northwest music scene dominated by dudes in flannel shirts by reminding everyone you didn’t need technical virtuosity or the right chromosomes to grow a goatee if you wanted to start a revolution. All you needed, Corin Tucker howled, were words and guitars. Just make sure to sing loud enough so the most powerful people can hear.
Sleater-Kinney have always written incendiary songs about power, whether they were grappling with unrequited love or eviscerating sexism and consumerism. Even though they’re no longer underdogs—their last album, 2005’s The Woods, cemented their rep as one of the all-time great groups—that hasn’t changed on their triumphant return. They’re positively righteous on the working-class rant ”Price Tag,” and their dual guitar lines wrestle mightily on ”Surface Envy,” though Tucker and fellow singer-guitarist Carrie Brownstein build so much intimacy on ”Bury Our Friends,” they can finish each other’s melodies. But the band’s own power comes from a more confident place. Lyrically, they find strength in stillness, though musically, they’re raging as hard as ever. ”When the spotlight starts to fade,” Tucker sings on ”Fade,” ”If there’s no tomorrow/You better live.” Now that they’re back, here’s to them living forever. A
Tangled guitar stomp Bury Our Friends
We-stand-united anthem Hey Darling