“The Center Won’t Hold” (Mom + Pop, 2019)
. . .#Yeats wrote the poem that lends this album its title about chaos portending great things. And while some are asking if this high-gloss, hyper-modern, Janet Weiss-less band is even #SleaterKinney , I gotta wonder: did they intend this as a comment on the collapse of their own center?
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It *is* them, if for no other reason than that Carrie and Corin put the name on the front cover, and they can go where they want with their art. In the inevitable choice between embracing the moment or attempting to reproduce a bygone one, neither is wrong, neither is right, and each has its pros and cons. The only real questions are whether artists’ choices are authentic and whether the results are good. For fans, it’s simpler: take it or leave it.
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Conservation and revolution are two sides of the same coin; one cannot imagine a livable world that either refuses to change or refuses to recognize a lasting value in anything. The thing is, we face this dual necessity in a reality that constantly challenges it, constantly forces us to clamor for the balance. Sleater-Kinney have changed, and they didn’t *have* to - art is one of the realms in which one can insist on the continuity of the past without hurting anyone (it can even have great benefits, like the preservation of an ancient city). But maybe their decision to explore the looseness of their center is a metaphor for life in a reality that feels more unstable all the time. You grow, you change, you face the radical indeterminacy of life and history as it comes; you celebrate, you regret, you get praised and you get rejected. You fly blind, most of the time, but hopefully in good faith. This is the world, the world in its constant state of upheaval - usually subtle but always unsettled, rife with simultaneous anxiety and possibility. While so many are digging trenches of war into the shifting earth, raging against a world that betrays their desire for sense, Sleater-Kinney have made their existential claim: they’re living it out.
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Or maybe it’s just a good modern rock record. Either way: I’m taking it.
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Pressing: black & cream