When drummer Janet Weiss unexpectedly announced her departure from Sleater-Kinney, it was with the explanation that the feminist rock agitators were heading in “a new direction” - the unspoken addendum being that it was one she cared not for. And true, though the band have always mixed punk catharsis with melody, ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ is by far their most stylised, radio-friendly work to date; produced by St Vincent, Annie Clark’s icy sheen and dark seduction is all over the record.
Yet this isn’t an album that bends to the mainstream machine, it’s one that uses its tools to subvert even more slyly, soaring and stabbing in equal measure. On single ‘Hurry On Home’ - a sleazy, prowling thing - they use insults previously levered at them as a chorus (“Unfuckable, unlovable, unlistenable”), while ‘Ruins’ uses grizzled synths to paint the apocalypse around them (“Eat the weak… Nothing left but ruins…”). ‘The Dog / The Body’ meanwhile is melodically simple and streamlined, where slinking highlight ‘Bad Dance’ is a party at the end of the world. The soundtrack might have changed, but there’s still plenty of antagonistic glory to be found.
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The bands will head across the US in August.
It’s the first release from the group since August’s ‘The Center Won’t Hold’.
We meet Sleater-Kinney as a trio and leave them as a duo. With their inner workings altered, but their most progressive work at their fingertips, we find a band stepping into an unexpected new dawn.
The August issue of DIY - featuring Sleater-Kinney, The Murder Capital, The Big Moon, Kim Petras and more - is out now
It also features Friendly Fires, The Futureheads, Jay Som, Shura, Whitney and more.