Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love

by Jim Harris Rating:8.5 Release Date:2015-01-20

Sleater-Kinney, one of those riot grrl bands from the 90s is back and back strong. With their latest album, No Cities to Love, this grungy-metal-punk band snarls, tears, rips and jams its way through as strong a set of tunes as they have ever put out. (I guess put out is the wrong term to apply to a founding riot grrl band. That’s a sure way to get your ass kicked. Still…)

I first saw Sleater-Kinney in the late-90s and what struck me besides the fact that there were no penises on stage, was that they looked remarkably like their audience. Unlike the glam-punk riot grrls who spit angry venom on stage and appropriately misplayed their instruments (while still appearing to take about the same time to apply their makeup and do their hair as a valley girl).

Not Sleater-Kinney. This band had a lead singer who had a signature voice every bit as powerful and edgy as Patti Smith or Johnny Rotten. And they borrowed just as much from a metal band for their riffs as they did punk and grunge. And they did it well. And they looked and dressed like baristas in a Portland coffee shop.

20 years later Sleater-Kinney are doing it just as well, and for better or worse, more polished and attentive to the structure.  As with most of their albums, there is that handful of abrasive, screeching songs (‘Fangless’, ‘No Anthem’), a few songs that blast out their anthemic metal influences ‘(Fade’), and then a couple of ambitious classics to add to their growing canon. ‘No Cities to Love’ is as elaborate and well-executed of a song I have ever heard by the band, and ‘Bury Our Friends’ is as radio-ready as anything they have ever done.

All and all, even if these riot grrls are in their 40s now, the energy, musicianship, and creativity of the band that begat St. Vincent, Savages, and countless others has never been stronger. While many of the punkier girl-bands today like Dum Dum Girls, La Sera, and Perfect Pussy seem more framed around sex appeal than musicianship, Sleater-Kinney have proven over the years it’s their musical chops that have left such an influence.  I won’t go as far as to say No Cities to Love is Sleater-Kinney’s strongest album, but for this band, one of the most influential bands in alternative history, it’s as good as it gets.

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