SLEATER-KINNEY – The Woods (Sub Pop)

This is the first time that I have bought anything by Sleater-Kinney, as although I know the name I always felt that the type of music that they purveyed was not for me. After seeing a favourable review of this one which mentioned that they band had upped the guitar quotient I felt that now was time to sample them. Not having heard much previously with which to compare this, my first impressions are that this really is a great heavy rock record. Not only have the guitars been brought forward, they have also been turned up to the point of distortion, giving the songs a ragged feel bringing to mind Neil Young’s recent experiments with feedback. ‘The Fox’ is a good opener, and Tucker’s P J Harvey-styled vocals rip through the song. ‘Wilderness’ has a jerky rhythm to it, while ‘What’s Mine Is Yours’ ends with the guitars having a feedback duel. ‘Jumpers’ is actually quite tuneful, with a catchy melody and Tucker’s smoother vocal suiting the song. ‘Modern Girl’ is another good pop/rock song, one of the shortest so far, and actually commercial enough for single release. ‘Entertain’ speeds things up before ‘Rollercoaster’ comes in with a bludgeoning beat and guitars to the max. ‘Steep Air’ has some great heavy riffs, and some of the best solos on the disc, but it is ‘Let’s Call It Love’ which really astounds. A huge riff-led track which is stretched out to over ten minutes with an onslaught of guitar solos. Seguing into final track ‘Night Light’ to fill up one whole side of the vinyl issue, these two tracks are astonishing, and repay my tentative investment in spades. If this is the new direction that the band are taking then Sleater-Kinney have just elevated themselves to the A-list of my favourite bands.