Good Thing We Only Waited Five Years
For anyone late to the Sleater-Kinney party, 2005’s The Woods was a delightful kick in the mouth—girl punk at its finest. Riot grrrls Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, the backbone of the Olympia, Washington band, thrashed through trailblazing bands like Heavens to Betsy and Excuse 17 before their 10-year career in S-K. Now 37, Tucker went quiet after that 2005 finale, raising two kids with her husband in Portland, Oregon. Turns out she was at work on a brooding, smoldering opus of 11 gorgeous tracks that are a far cry from the screeching days of yore, but not without its own significant rewards. With 1,000 Years she’s taken a more thoughtful, pensive, and melodic approach. This is rock from a mature mom’s perspective, and the result is not as inferior as Sleater-Kinney fanatics will have you believe.
The shouting you may be craving pretty much apexes with the first single, “Doubt.” It’s a propulsive churner that requires a scream for the chorus to be heard over Unwound drummer Sara Lund’s pounding and Golden Bears’ guitarist Seth Lorinczi’s shredding. The song is a succinct and concentrated punk single complete with a pause and hand-clap bring-it-back moment in the middle. Here, Tucker proves that her voice is diverse, mature, and seasoned but still healthy. She seamlessly transitions from whispering, controlled anger to a full-on emotional yelp, and it is impressive.
It’s true that the rest of 1,000 Years isn’t nearly as badass as “Doubt.” However, what it lacks in volume it makes up for in calmly moody songs of the time. “Thrift Store Coats” smacks of 2010’s iffy economy, “Half a World Away” laments having a partner who’s on the road for long periods of time, and “It’s Always Summer” is haunted by the counting of days and hours until their reunion. It may sound tiresome to hear the laments of a successful artist couple, but what drowns out the dark content is the classy, distorted and nuanced guitar parts and hushed, concentrated vocals.
“Handed Love” has a beautifully gritty guitar roll that’s just electrified enough. The opening title track’s simple, bouncy distortion is a delightful introduction before we hear the clean strums from Tucker’s guitar. “Riley” is the other song that folks looking for a throwback punk moment will savor and rejoice; a song that feels a little like The Woods‘ “Jumpers,” and one of the only songs where we really hear Tucker’s trademark guttural wail. This means that fans looking for some kind of Sleater-Kinney 2.0 might be disappointed with 1,000 Years. Yet if you loved the The Woods and wouldn’t have minded if the volume was turned down a notch, or if the screaming was tempered by slower, darker number, this is going to make your month.