No Cities to Love

The return of Sleater-Kinney has been almost three years in the making. The trio's not-so-distant memory was as fresh as wet paint to some and, for others, obscured slightly by the members' other recent projects. But we knew it was coming. And the band—Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss—has done right by marking its return with an album of new material. No Cities to Love, the trio's first record since 2005's excellent The Woods, is less furrowed-brow angst and more apprehensive fun. The members are in different places in 2015, but that doesn't mean there aren't things on their minds. Tucker gets right to it on opener “Price Tag”: “It's 9 a.m., we must clock in, the system waits for us,” she laments on America's working-class struggle. Musically, Tucker and Brownstein's wiry guitar work and Weiss' busy drumming are sterilized by the John Goodmanson's (who's worked with S-K before) sparkling production. It's immediately noticeable, but the band's sneer and snarl remain—just more refined. If No Cities to Love seems a little less vicious than some of Sleater-Kinney's earlier work, that's because it is. But it's an honest document. And that carries far more weight than mere raw power.