- 11 Jun 21
Post-grunge jangle-pop stars stride confidently forward as a duo.
“Change will happen – it just will,” Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker told Hot Press in January 2020. Well, she was right about that. Eighteen months and one pandemic later, Tucker and bandmate Carrie Brownstein have done the decent thing and released a fantastic lockdown record – their first self-produced album in Sleater-Kinney’s 25 year history.
It’s also their first as a duo, following the departure of drummer Janet Weiss in the aftermath of 2019’s The Centre Won’t Hold. Yet there is little sense of Sleater-Kinney suffering diminishing returns: Path Of Wellness brims with vim, vigour and a Gen X sense of cynical self-reliance.
It opens blisteringly with a title-track driven by a staccato bass-line and with Tucker and Brownstein’s vocals intertwined. “You can never love me enough… ,” chants Brownstein on the mesmerising chorus. It is, in the most magnificent sense, the ’90s bottled.
Elsewhere there are reflections on the present and the past. ‘Worry With You’ speaks to the great, quiet trauma we’ve all been suffering through since March last year.
And ‘Complex Female Characters’ reflects on Weiss’ decampment and the misogynistic suggestion that her exit was prompted by the arrival onto the scene of St. Vincent as producer on The Centre Won’t Hold (Brownstein has expressed frustration over the narrative of studio “cattiness” leading to Weiss moving on).
Lockdown records are practically a genre unto themselves now. While in no way as stark a reinvention as Taylor Swift’s folklore, Path Of Wellness is nonetheless an impressive example of artists taking stock and proceeding towards the future on their own terms.
Listen to the album below.