Sleater-Kinney - One Beat (Cover Artwork)


One Beat (2002)

Kill Rock Stars

Okay, I admit it, when I first got this album I was convinced: best album of the year! No doubt about it, even if I'd never given Sleater-Kinney the time of day beforehand. Infact, after reading Time magazine calling them the 'Best Rock Band in America' last year, when their last album, 'All Hands on the Bad One' was doing the rounds, I was summarilly turned off.

But, judge not lest he be judged, I decided to give 'One Beat' a shot. And sure enough, it was a whole lot better than I thought. I, who would have scoffed at a band with no bass a year ago, was stunned by what Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein can do with their insturments, everything sounds so rich. The opener and title track, 'One Beat' seems to either meander along at a steady pace or burst as if rushing through rapids. 'Oh!' seems all sugar coated and girly, seemingly denying their riot grrrl roots. 'Funeral Song' happily wanders along nicely.

But, as I found two weeks later, the problem with these songs, and the album as a whole, don't have staying power. Don't get me wrong, I still think it's a quality effort, but plugging it into my ears now sees me often reaching for the 'skip' button.

There are, however, som real diamonds that don't lose their lustre. 'Light Rail Coyote' stands out with one of the best guitar lines on the record, and it's odd structure is strangley hypnotic. 'Combat Rock' proves you don't always have to be loud and angry (and even male) to write great politically based music. Sleater-Kinney's answer to post-September 11 patriotism is biting and true ("since hen is skepticism un-American / dissents not treason but they talk as it's the same") and sometimes even bitter ("show you love your country, go out and spend some cash"). O2 definitley is as good as Sleater-Kinney have ever been ("I depend on oxygen / I depend on bitter snow") and it leaves you wondering how such great lyrics can come from the same people who wrote 'Pristina', which shows up just two songs later. Perhaps it's just not my cup of tea.

If there was an awrd for best Half-Album of the year, this release would win hands down, as there are some really great, and I do mean great, moments on this album. Unfortunately, there is no such award, because part of the art to making a great album is getting it right the whole way through. Sleater-Kinney are close, yet so far away.