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Old 04-15-2021, 03:54 PM   #51 (permalink)
Swifter than Gaylor slays
 
Marie Monday's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
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Anyone who still has the patience to keep up with this journal may have been wondering why on earth I haven't reviewed any Sleater-Kinney album yet. The reason is that I want to do them justice, so I only want to review them when I feel a strong impulse to do so, and I have listened to and thought about every S-K record so much already that I didn't have that impulse. But now that I ranked all S-K albums in the discography thread I suddenly do, so it's finally happening:



Sleater-Kinney - The Woods
I'm just going to discuss this album song by song.

The Fox is simply the best thing ever, it may be my favourite S-K song. I don’t even really know what to say about it, it speaks for itself. I love how the riff repeats, and the second time a kind of crescendo is implied in the distortion and/or another guitar layer (?) and in the drumming, in a clever way (the distortion part of the trick gets repeated in Modern Girl, but differently). And Corin makes your hair stand on end by shrieking like she’s possessed. It’s stunning.

The neat little riff that kicks off Wilderness sweeps the sonic ravage of The Fox clean with one stroke. Carrie’s voice matches it perfectly, especially the delightfully quirky second verse of 'say I do in the month of May / say I don’t the very next day'. What I like best about this song is the way the guitar and vocals interact, a bit like counterpoint. We also get the first small sample of Carrie’s idea of a guitar solo.

What’s Mine Is Yours starts with Corin bellowing 'sit down honey, let’s kill some time’, which is one of her finest moments in an album full of incredible vocals. And in comes the fattest, most delicious, fuzzy boogie riff ever. Then Carrie lets the ghosts in with her guitar solo. This leads to one of the most obvious Led Zeppelin inspired moments (reminiscent of How Many More Times, but so much better), when the spooky solo morphs into a slow, stomping rhythm leading up to Corin’s moment supreme when she wails ‘I'M STILL RUNNING’

One thing that applies to the record as a whole but stands out to me in Jumpers is that the music is so expressive, as if it speaks; even the drums. The guitar solos in the bridge of this song (which is obviously its most important part) are so full of agony, I can’t even explain. And Carrie shrieks ‘Let’s go!’, full of fierce, biting despair. It’s so devastating and beautiful.

The quietude of Modern Girl belies its impact. The ingredients are simple: Carrie’s fierce but fragile vocals, the hypnotic riff with the strange rhythm, the ominous harmonica (who knew harmonicas could sound so spooky) and the crescendo of distortion. Like a little nightmare fairy tale.

Entertain finally offers some respite from the assault on your emotions with some angry fun. Thundering drums, vocals with a dynamical, swinging rhythm and rhyme pattern. I never cared much for the chorus, but who cares when the rest of the song is this brilliant. As if we haven’t had enough fun it turns into a march and gets even better. ‘One! Two! Three! If you wanna take a shot at me, get in li-ine’. It features some of Carrie’s best vocals.

I think Rollercoaster is underrated; of course it’s not one of the most iconic songs of the album and mostly it’s pretty straightforward, but even the straightforward part works very well, the guitar is brilliant throughout (it sounds like it makes dainty little frills), and then there’s the interlude. A thick cloud of noise like a pillow, the most lovely clear oh-oh-oh’s floating over it, and Carrie’s greatest wails ever; it’s as if the text has been designed for her idiosyncratic vocal charms (and maybe it has).

Steep Air is bleak. It’s a depressed indie version of a blues, I guess. It’s my least favourite song here, but that says more about the quality of the rest of the album. It’s neat and powerful, and Corin comes to the rescue by yelling some attempt at positivity, but I’m just always a bit relieved when this gloom is over.

Which leads to Let’s Call It Love + Night Light, Corin’s love-and-war tour de force. She’s always an incredible vocalist, but somehow she’s at her best when she sings about sex (think Turn It On). Janet goes wild on the drums, freestyling her heart out during the choruses. Favourite lyric: ‘a woman is not a girl/I could show you a thing or two’. Hell yes. Robert Plant singing Whole Lotta Love sounds like an impotent, unthreatening gnome compared to this. And of course we get Carrie’s second great Guitar Solo. It’s not nearly as spooky as the first one, but it’s more melodious (I always hum the entire thing along in my head). The eeriness is mostly supplied by Night Light.

There is an extra track called Everything which I include in this discussion because it rules. It starts with a really random but beautiful guitar bit that doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the song. Apart from that, the obvious highlight here is Janet’s drumming; it’s absolutely fantastic, a pity that it’s hidden away in bonus material.

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Last edited by Marie Monday; 04-15-2021 at 04:10 PM.
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