Sleater Kinney - No Cities To Love

Sub Pop 2015

Is it fair to compare a band and their work after a lengthy hiatus? While No Cities To Love, Sleater-Kinney's first album in 10 years, has been universally lauded, the question still remains relevant, and one that should be considered while reviewing the LP. I've come to the conclusion that, invariably there will be comparisons made. People will compare the band as if it were the same thing, but truthfully, just because the members of the band are the same, after a hiatus of a decade, a generation; it is in some very real sense comparing apples to oranges. Well, perhaps it's not that drastic a comparison, but the point is there is something tangibly different going on and we're not talking about the development of a band over time. We're talking about individual growth apart from a group dynamic. Contextual, environmental, musical changes... life keeps moving forward. My choice is to view this album through clean lenses; ones not blurred by the past. However, regardless of how you see the band and their return, it would be hard pressed to say anything but that this album kills.

It begins with "Price Tag", which doesn't simply open the doors to the album; it busts the doors down as if destroyed by some Marvel character. A crunchy guitar line begins before the rest of the band throws it down, driving the track at full speed. The chorus is catchy but ominous, warning that "We never really checked, we never checked the price tag, when the cost comes in, it's gonna be high... the good jobs gone it's gonna be raw".
"Fangless" continues the momentum with a somewhat cleaner sound surrounded by a jagged synth line, which snakes through Sleater-Kinney's more traditional instrumentation.

"No Anthems" rumbles along. The low end is seemingly de-tuned, which leads to an intensity to the track. Further, the song seems to speak of the above change in the band. The chorus claims that "I'm not the anthem, I once was an anthem, That sang the song of me, But now there are no anthems, All I can hear is the echo, and the ring".

The more one listens to the album the more it ensnares its listeners. No Cities To Love is fantastic from start to finish. It growls and crunches, while informing and commenting on society at large, at least in part. And, let us not forget its call to action "We win, we lose, only together do we break the rules."


--Fredy M. Iuni hosts Hiway 1, Mondays at 7:00 PM on CJLO.