All right, this is a nice recovery. Sleater-Kinney’s back with some enthusiasm on their fifth album after a disappointing fourth. I’d say something like “This is the way riot grrls should grow up” but that sounds sexist and/or dismissive of riot grrls, and I don’t want to do that. Suffice it to say I don’t think the pure rage of their first album can be effective for too long, but here they are five years later handling many of the same issues from a broader, less personal perspective lyrically and with more variation in tempi and song construction musically.
My biggest complaint on The Hot Rock was that their slower songs were boring, but here when they slow things down it works. “The Ballad Of A Ladyman” is the perfect palate preparation for the blistering punk that would follow it, and “Milkshake N’ Honey” is a beautiful, French-laden take on, I think, a male rocker who checks out of life with a groupie in Paris only to be dumped by her.
The faster tracks are all good, too. “You’re No Rock N’ Roll Fun” is the best, and I was happy to see it was the single from the album, because it always makes me happy when bands know what their best songs are. It’s a dancey-romp full of gang vocals and driving quarter-note stomp drums.
My only complaint here is that they lean on one meme a little too heavily, and that’s starting off a song with a tinny, lone guitar riff whose stumbly, insistent 16th-notes feel like a 15-year-old boy trying to figure out how to fuck. It’s a minor complaint, though. They may not be the most technically proficient musicians, but this is punk, and they make the most out of what they’ve got.
Mix: “You’re No Rock N’ Roll Fun”
– “The Ballad Of A Ladyman,” “Youth Decay,” “#1 Must Have,” “Was It A Lie?,” “Male Model,” “Leave You Behind,” “Milkshake N’ Honey,” “The Swimmer”
– “Ironclad,” “All Hands On The Bad One,” “The Professional,” “Pompeii”
Song Notes: After the jump
- The Ballad Of A Ladyman –
- Ironclad – open with a ballad then into the punky
- All Hands On The Bad One –
- Youth Decay –
- You’re No Rock N’ Roll Fun –
- #1 Must Have – Rough first 40 seconds, but then gets a-rockin’
- The Professional –
- Was It A Lie? –
- Male Model –
- Leave You Behind –
- Milkshake N’ Honey –
- Pompeii –
- The Swimmer –