Ayo Jegede
reviews editor
May 26, 2005
Amazon Disco:
The Woods The Woods
May 24, 2005
Sub Pop
All Hands on the Bad One All Hands on the Bad One
May 2, 2000
Kill Rock Stars
Dig Me Out Dig Me Out
April 8, 1997
Kill Rock Stars
The Hot Rock The Hot Rock
February 23, 1999
Kill Rock Stars
Sleater-Kinney Sleater-Kinney
June 25, 1996
Chainsaw Records
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The Woods

Sleater-Kinney's musical designs had always inched towards an exhilarating precipice, culminating no more magnificently than 2002's One Beat. there the Washington trio mined exactingly the power of their genre as well as delivering song after song of insufferably literate manifestos. they had wondrous, vivid direction that put to shame their cohorts because it wasn't about fulfilling any implicit agendas laid out for an alternative, female-fronted trio or that of the genre. so why, then, all this apprehension about The Woods because Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Weezer, Flaming Lips) held the production reins or because Corin Tucker has a few guitar solos and one song is 11 minutes long? i could already hear the ensemble cashing in of hipster stock and resignation until another DFA Compilation was released.

cool your jets, Charlie. The Woods is not some hyperbolic palinode of their career up until now and Sub Pop is not the hipster Death Star. the group's position now is only natural, their ambitions having overridden previously comfortable space and, in any case, Fridmann's role was really more of a conduit than controller. the oft talked of resultant low guitar rumbles and solos are part and parcel of the album's theme. whereas One Beat was conceived under a somewhat familiar alternative rubric, The Woods is, as its title denotes, a relatively unbuffered wave of pathos which junks pretension and washes out any doubts you had about the band's artistic facilities.

opener 'The Fox' allegorically encapsulates the rest of the album both sonically and lyrically as Tucker sings, "That good-looking fox only knew one trick/He could break hearts just lickety-split/The duck knew this game she had to quit/And her own pond she was headed to quick." though it seems to have more personal than public resonance, 'The Fox' quite naturally segues into those songs that are more specifically political like 'Entertain' and 'Steep Air.' the new violence you hear from Tucker and Brownstein's guitars and Janet Weiss's drumming (i personally think she's Dave Grohl's long-lost sister or something) act as great amplifiers and, unlike the lot of naysayers, Tucker's newfound independence with her instrument feels genuine.

you could also argue that Sleater-Kinney could previously be considered consistently good. that is, their previous work has been dedicated to fully toting an idea with great specificity and consistency, albums like One Beat and All Hands on The Bad One maintaining a constant apex. 'Let's Call It Love,' the annoyingly bemoaned 11-minute piece, represents a new fore for them. the best 'long' songs are those that don't feel protracted or unnecessary; as though each component is necessary and the entire message fully exigent. each part of the song--from the glorious, unwavering beginning to the Hendrix-like guitar work in the middle to its equally ferocious end--is brilliantly composed and feeds into 'Night Light.' each song before 'Let's Call It Love' may have been an apex held, but the last two are especially compelling; apexes of an apex if you will. so to all of you apprehensive about The Woods i say this: don't fear The Rock; Sleater-Kinney have conquered it with efficacy and energy.

Release date: May 24, 2005
Label: Sub Pop
Rating: 9.0 / 10