Few bands know when to call it quits, the good ones calling time when they are still a potent musical entity, still at the top of their game. Sleater-Kinney never put a foot wrong in the first decade of their existence, churning out eight excellent albums that were immediately recognisable as the work of Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. In 2005 they stepped away to explore other projects and now, a decade later, they have returned sounding as vital and restlessly creative as ever.
From the opening track ‘Price Tag’ that jerking, yelping sound is present though now there is a shinier, modern production sheen which enhances the trio’s intricate interplay as counterpoint riffs fire missives over Weiss’ big beat. Themes of consumerism and the search for love and identity in the 21st century are woven into the ten songs that comprise the half hour album, that brevity a key factor in the rush and thrill of the music. The songs are lean, Brownstein managing to meld Talking Heads, Fugazi, Gang of Four and Guns N’ Roses into her playing making this an air-guitar rock record as much as a post-punk treatise on modern life. The choruses of the title track, ‘No Anthems’ and ‘A New Wave’ show how well they nail hooks and a certain pop quality amid their underground alt-rock leanings. No Cities To Love should be held up as the template for a band reconvening and reigniting with renewed vigour, urgency and musical creativity.
this review was first published in The Music