American grrrls

Here’s the drama you’ve been craving. After rising out of riot grrrl rage, creating six albums of lithe and literate somewhere-punk music, and rightfully ignoring reams of apologist rock crit hot air, Sleater-Kinney — the veterans — have made a transitional album. Here, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss want more than the primal immediacy of their past work. Sounds carry longer on The Woods, from its warped and extended guitar solos to a scraggly, weighty bottom-end crafted by famed alt-rock producer Dave Fridmann. The hooks on “Entertain” are crisp and inventive, its lyrics a brow beat on hot and fussy boy rockers (“You come around looking like 1984/You’re such a bore ...”). But the song also has an unexpected coda of militant snare and snarling six-string. “The Fox” roars like the PJ Harvey of 15 years ago — it doesn’t want only punk barbs, but big and gristly rock ’n’ roll too. Meanwhile, the measured and dramatic “Modern Girl” is a compelling detour. S-K has always reinvented its righteousness, instrumentation and arrangements. But now it’s looking inward at that mystery spot where guitars, drums and strident voices meet. This record transitions Sleater-Kinney from a respected lightning rod into a revered rock band.

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].

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