Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


No Cities to Love (2015)

Sub Pop

It’s been ten years since the last Sleater-Kinney release (2005’s The Woods) and nine years since their unexpected hiatus was announced. There was no public blowup nor stints in rehab, just three musicians going on their own paths after over a decade together. When their reunion was announced late last year, it was met with great enthusiasm if not slight trepidation. After all, ten years is a long time, and while the three ladies of S-K have stayed active musically (The Corin Tucker Band, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Wild Flag), the band as an entity has a certain legacy to live up to, somewhat magnified by their time away. Not to worry, though, No Cities to Love lives up to it.

It’s like time never stopped once the album kicks off with “Price Tag” and moves into “Fangless.” Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein’s guitars still intertwine with each other at times, while seemingly attack at others. Janet Weiss’ drums are strong and the album is positively explosive from the start. Tucker’s voice wails with a familiar fury on “Surface Envy,” with Brownstein joining in on the chorus, shouting “We win/We lose/Only together ‘till we break the rules” and bringing forth the album’s first true headbanging moment.

A more subdued groove highlights “No Cities to Love,” with Tucker’s guitar providing the bassline that Brownstein’s guitar builds a steady riff over, finally culminating into a loud, busting chorus where they harmonize “it’s not the cities it’s the weather we love.” Those same harmonies highlight the choruses of “No Anthems” and “A New Wave,” the latter song taking the title to heart, sounds coming together like the ocean crashing onto the beach, then receding back into calm.

“We’re sick with worry/These nervous days” Tucker and Brownstein sing in the chorus of “Bury Our Friends.” The song, an example of flawless interplay between the two vocalist/guitarists with a pounding, primal beat by Weiss, is the album’s standout track and will be considered as highly as any other S-K classic in the band’s catalog. “Fade,” the album’s closer, is the slowest of the new songs, rising up the middle both in tempo and volume, before fading out quickly, almost abruptly.

Simply put, Sleater-Kinney have not only returned with a worthy successor to their previous work, they have put out what is arguably the best album of their career. After a decade hiatus, No Cities to Love is a jagged, groove-laden and loud return to form for the trio. 2015, the bar has been set.