They came back and they stayed back. After their 10 years hiatus ended with 2015's brilliant No Cities to Love, Sleater-Kinney kept writing together to create The Center Won't Hold. The album was produced with great care by St. Vincent, and sees the band exploring personal themes the only way they know how. By being a very good rock band.
Limited Vinyl LP £24.99 7790840
Deluxe edition, heavyweight vinyl LP on Mom + Pop in a gatefold sleeve. Includes bonus 'Hurry On Home' 7".
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Vinyl LP £18.99 7790841
Heavyweight vinyl LP on Mom + Pop in a gatefold sleeve.
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CD £9.99 7790842
CD on Mom + Pop.
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The title of Sleater-Kinney's new album 'The Center Won't Hold' is a corruption of a famous line from W. B. Yeats' poem 'The Second Coming' which details an apocalyptic future where "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity" (sound familiar?). The actual line is "the centre cannot hold", so with their adaptation Sleater-Kinney are not identifying a lack of agency or ability but a lack of care; the status quo will not change not because people "can't" but because people "won't". Although this analysis is a little trite and weedy, it's still a damning indictment of modern times from a band who have always held a withering gaze to all forms of authority.
'The Centre Won't Hold' opens ominously enough with the title track's pounding industrial drums a la Einstürzende Neubauten before a heavy, aggressive blend of punk and something approaching metal kicks in. After hearing this opener, I was impressed by the direction the band take on songs like 'Hurry On Home' and 'Reach Out' which have pumping disco vibes and monster grooves. 'Ruins' is like St. Vincent at her best, all huge distorted vocals and haunting, ethereal vocals. St. Vincent actually produced 'The Center Won't Hold' and you can hear her influence in the album's diverse arrangements and song structures. Unfortunately, the band's missteps come with the more traditional alt-rock songs like 'A Restless Life' and 'Bad Dance' which are pretty timid and easily forgotten.
For the most part, Sleater-Kinney have made a varied and interesting album which shows not only a keen social awareness but a willingness to engage with developments in modern music, not because they can but because they must.
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