- 14 Aug 19
Excellent effort from riot grrrl legends.
Taken in isolation, legends Sleater-Kinney’s new album The Center Won’t Hold packs just the type of gut punch you would expect from arguably the greatest surviving American punk-rockers. But, in the context of the establishment’s demonisation of ‘women with something to say’ – such as Meghan Rapinoe – not to mention the onset of what promises to be a hugely toxic election cycle, this album is especially timely.
Of late, however, the chaos has been on both sides of the mic. The release of The Center Won’t Hold has been overshadowed by the announcement earlier this month that long-time drummer Janet Weiss was leaving Sleater Kinney, despite having played on the new record. The public comments of both parties have hinted at unspoken discord, with the dreaded “artistic differences” being cited as the tipping point. It’s a shame, as the album is brimful of all the energy and ambition you’d expect from the Portland trio.
The title track sees Carrie Brownstein howl, “I need something pretty/ To help me ease my pain” over an industrial beat. That sets the tone for the album, as a rollercoaster of fury, infused with no little compassion. ‘Hurry On Home’ curiously adds layers of keyboard and extra guitar, which has an almost neutralising effect on the drums, before the trio revert to type, united in a chaotic, furious crescendo.
The album’s third single, ‘The Future Is Here’, ominously paints a dark picture of the abyss the digital age is dragging us into: “Tell me if you feel like you are lost and alone.” There are some patchy moments, but they are few, leaving little doubt that whatever iteration of Sleater-Kinney tours this album, the furious evolution of a band that cares will ultimately endure.
Out August 16.