No Cities to Love
Liberal thinkers and commentators have a reputation, often much deserved, of not being able to take a joke, of being not fun. It only takes ten minutes on twitter and having your feed hi-jacked by another witch hunt to confirm your worst instincts on liberals. So, it should come as no surprise, when an indie-rock trio loved by liberal thinkers comes out with their first new album in ten years, the fun factor is sadly overlooked.
Sleater-Kinney are an important band, a very important band. Their left-leaning politics and fiercely proud feminism sheltered countless listeners during the band’s first run through the ’90s and early-to-mid ’00s. Carrie Brownstein also has one helluva rock kick. And you know that song of theirs, “No Rock ‘N’ Roll Fun?” Turn it around and the message becomes, Sleater-Kinney are Rock ‘N’ Roll fun.
Therein lies the brilliance of Brownstein (guitars and Portlandia), Janet Weiss (drums), and Corrin Tucker (vocals/guitars) as Sleater-Kinney: With Weiss’ dynamic pummel, Brownstein and Tucker augmenting their sly, side-winding melodies with unabashed arena rock adulation, and Tucker’s soul-infused yowl, the serious becomes less stuffy and the life-changing becomes life. And fun. We were going to talk about fun, weren’t we?
Try out, “Surface Envy.” Struggle sounds downright invigorating when Tucker exclaims, “We win, we lose/Only together do we break the rules/We win, we lose/Only together do we make the rules.”
Similarly, lead single, “Bury Our Friends,” raises resilience to kegger levels. Lefties can have keggers, too, right? A kegger with well-organized beer lines, supervised bicycle parking, and a tip bucket for the local woman’s shelter is still a kegger.
Now, when you find yourself at the Sleater-Kinney show and you find yourself reliving the protests of the ’90s, remember, this is fun. Brownstein doing her best Slash on album closer, “Fade,” is fun, and I expect you to raise your fists appropriately. There will be time for hugging, and there will be time for planning the next protest when the rock is done.