Don't know what you had till it up and left your ass one day. Then it returns, on some Jedi steez, and you swear up and down that never ever will you take Sleater-Kinney for granted again, not their music, not their message, not the irony in such a proud all-female band being produced by a dude with the last name Goodmanson, you are different now and you know better.
Tricky thing is, so are they.
"Price Tag"--Economic woes lead but to self-cannibalization. The drums are steady, strong, unshakable. But that's standard S-K: the foundation doesn't collapse, you collapse upon the foundation.
Mama Corin is mindful, but on the other side is Carrie, worrying mostly for herself by herself. Unluckily for us all, life in these 21st-century United States ain't the goddamn Pain and Suffering Olympics. No gold medals for the procreating competitors, no podium spot for the creating competitors, no nothing but more "no"'s.
"Fangless"--Fans of Sharon Gless? That's what I've taken away from this song, which features some sweet Janet backing vocals. If Sleater-Kinney were Cagney & Lacey, Carrie would be the ambitious Cagney, while Corin would be the family-first Lacey. Janet would be over on Hill Street Blues, which was a much better 80s cop show.
"Surface Envy"--That the band has lost none of their individual or collective acerbity is the biggest reason that No Cities To Love not only works, but works harder longer faster stronger than any other clock-punchers going. They're not dishing out, they're breaking plates, 'cause the planet is fucked...or it is if people don't dig deeper for some substance pride.
"I feel so much stronger/Now that you're here/We've got so much to do/Let me make that clear!" Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
"No Cities To Love"--The first real "Carrie" song. Brownstein loves the feel of the words in her mouth, rolling over under and around her tongue, sticking to the palate and lodging in between most of her teeth. The verses are brick and mortar, the chorus is fiberglass and plaster.
The city is only what you make it. But others have made it before you.
"A New Wave"--Ever feel compelled to go all No Wave in life, just throw your arms around the nihilistic impulse, hurling your soul in the direction of the nearest black hole? All the avarice, all the destruction, all the deterioration, all the goddamn time, all paths lead but to the grave.
A new wave is even scarier, because it represents continuation. Oblivion is the greatest freedom. Obscurity is the bitterest freedom.
"No Anthems"--Oh my darling elephantine.
The bread has hardened, but Corin layers it edge to edge with honey.
"Gimme Love"--The album's shortest song is also arguably its most divisive. Love, lust, lasciviousness, lollipops...every "L" word that sends the brain and body into paroxysms, you can hear it inside "Gimme Love." The listeners who aren't repulsed by earnest pleas may just place this one near the top. Those fans who wanna earn their pleasures may feel differently.
That blue Slushee-infused instrumental break kinda has something for everybody, though.
"Bury Our Friends"--Remember those idols we killed years ago? Time to bring 'em back up, McGarrity.
Carrie's impatience is by turns endearing and infuriating. She's never as righteously pissed as Corin, but she always collects each stone as she overturns them.
"Hey Darling"--Lita Ford, riot grrrl? Well, she was a Runaway. And she used to fuck Tony Iommi. I've never banged anybody missing a part of a finger before.
Fame! Anybody can fly; try learning how to land. Oh, and there are no thresholds on the runway. FYI.
"Fade"--All that yelling, an avalanche is inevitable. What gets top honors on the death certificate, blunt force trauma or hypothermia?
After nine songs of life screaming up and down lush fields, death rounds things out. The investigator returns to the days-old crime scene. She stands stock-still, shuttering up the clutter inside of her inquisitive mind, beseeching the spirit to reach out to her, into her, to tell her who it was that wrenched their corporeal form from this realm.
It may just be.