What the hell happened here? Two four-and-a-half clown albums in a row and then Sleater-Kinney drops this with their next release? It was nice that they had ratcheted down the passion a bit from their too-raw debut, but this, their fourth album, is an overcorrection. Where’s the energy? Where’s the passion?
The album starts with a good, but not great track, and then by the time we get to “Hot Rock” in the second position, we’re already into some weird Sonic Youth mopey, eighth-note-heavy, and out-of-tune vocals and guitars stretch that doesn’t really pick up until we’re at least a third of the way through the 12th track. That song, “Memorize Your Lines,” is damned good, but even then they can’t keep it up for an entire song. It starts off with an A-B-A-B-C pattern, and the song is barely worth listening to until the C section. Why would you bury your best couple of minutes 11-plus songs into an album?
Stylistically, along with the guitar rhythm and atonality of everything that I mentioned above, the most notable element here is that the band brings out the dual-vocals much more, often times in contrapuntal melodic and lyrical lines. “Burn, Don’t Freeze!” simultaneously describes an arsonist (I think) in lyrical and explicit form.
This album is mostly meh. And there’s just so much of it that I finally had to differentiate by pushing songs into both full (“The End Of You,” “Burn, Don’t Freeze!”, “One Song For You”) and broken (“Don’t Talk Like,” “Living In Exile”) that otherwise wouldnt’ deserve their fate. Nice try, but no, there’s only one Kim Gordon.
– “The End Of You,” “Burn, Don’t Freeze!”, “One Song For You,” “Memorize Your Lines,” “A Quarter To Three”
– “Start Together,” “God Is A Number,” “Banned From The End Of The World”
– “Hot Rock,” “Don’t Talk Like,” “Get Up,” “The Size Of Our Love,” “Living In Exile”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Start Together – Have this as open but enjoying it more now. Could almost go full, if only because it stands out so much from the rest of the album.
- Hot Rock – More annoying than I usually allow for an open heart. Sullen and meandering. An odd choice for second track on the album.
- The End Of You – This one’s also growing on me a bit.
- Burn, Don’t Freeze! – “Arson is no way/To make a love burn brighter” Really putting the dual vocals to use here. Chorus is fairly uninspired.
- God Is A Number – might move this to broken. that opening is … ugh.
- Banned From The End Of The World –
- Don’t Talk Like –
- Get Up – should maybe be open but takes too long to get to the worthy parts.
- One Song For You –
- The Size Of Our Love – about cancer, I guess. I want to make this broken for the same reasons as “Get Up” but I just have a hard time doing that with a song about cancer. But this never gets as good as “Get Up,” so hell, broken. Screw you cancer song.
- Living In Exile – “She’s living an axiom”?
- Memorize Your Lines – Takes a long time to get rocking. A-B-A-B-C and C is the best part. At the very least that “performance of your life” part keeps it from being a mix.
- A Quarter To Three – “Going to bed at a quarter to three”. This is a good song. In fact, it’s one of the better songs on the album. And that makes me want to give it a full heart even though it’s not really that good.