When an artist falls in love with their genre they tend to fall in love hard. They’ll begin their careers at the vanguard and end up looking highly unfashionable. Being stuck in love with a once popular genre, unfortunately, seems to be a most undesirable trait.
Sleater-Kinney have been trading in the same formula for almost 20 years, albeit with an eight year break between. No Cities To Love is a throwback to a time when Olympia was the centre of the universe and indie rock was flourishing across both coasts of the US. It has some great moments, like all Sleater-Kinney records do. A New Wave recalls Brownstein at her screechy, scratchy best and opener Price Tag is fun, conscious and everything you’d expect from a genial songwriter with 20 years of pop-craft behind them. The gripe is in the overall sound though.
The feeling that this album could have been written at any time in the last 20 years is unshakable and unsettling. While most of the album’s ten songs are endlessly listenable, that nagging familiarity is unshakeable. To throw a positive light, the group’s integrity and commitment is enviable and with songs as good as the stupidly catchy title track we just can’t call this a bad record. All the while Washington’s indie darlings are carrying a heyday-weight which may only serve to hold them down. However, if No Cities… happens to reveal seminal albums like Dig Me Out and the band’s self-titled debut to a new audience, then we can’t complain.