Sleater-Kinney’s The Woods, produced by Dave Fridmann, is the band’s first album in three years and their noisiest one yet.
The group of Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss has forged a departure from their prior records on the Kill Rock Stars label. The Northwest band was formed in 1994 during the riot-grrl movement. The Woods, on Sub Pop, has Hendrix-like guitar solos and Zeppelin-inspired jams bridging its songs and lyrics.
Brownstein’s guitar heroics reach outright badassness. Tucker’s voice vibrates throughout and threatens to break apart as it overwhelms, and Weiss’s drumming gets more kinetic, with her arms whirling about her kit. She also plays harmonica on “Modern Girl.”
Midway into the album is “Jumpers,” a slow ballad about falling from the Golden Gate Bridge, sad and beautiful with a crunchy organ-like guitar and the lyrics, “My falling shape will draw a line/Between the blue of sea and sky.”
“So you want to be entertained? All you want is entertainment. Rip me open, it’s free.” Those lyrics open “Entertain,” the record’s most danceable song, in which Weiss provides a steady rock beat during a “whuh-oh-oh” refrain and “1-2-3” chorus.
Tucker sings “Rollercoaster,” the yummiest and most colorful of the tunes here, her cheeky voice serving up food obsession and relationships in a stew of rock and tomatoes – “Down at the market pick out the ripe one/Tempting me sorely and I want to bite one.”
The 11-minute “Let’s Call It Love” is the song which comes closest to capturing Sleater-Kinney’s live shows. A jam that causes synapses to fire and psychedelic colors to emerge, it leaves the listener traveling in their own tunnel of love. “Night Light,” which emerges from it, is beautifully sung by Tucker, a cool-down from the guitar peaks and the heights the album has achieved.