Sleater-Kinney, Sleater-Kinney

Nick Marino

By Nick Marino

on 04.11.11 in Reviews
Loud, young, angry rock by a band that had yet to coalesce

Released the year after Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Sleater-Kinney’s first album signaled an evolution not just for guitar rock from the Pacific Northwest, but for anyone who cared about underground music. Riot grrrl was a fully fledged genre, and S-K’s self-titled debut embodied the sound: angular guitars, feminist lyrics, howled vocals, stripped-down sonics and an electric current channeling palpable (here’s an antiquated word) angst. The first song, “Don’t Think You Wannna,” aped Nirvana’s loud-soft-loud dynamic, and the band’s screamy vocals plus lo-fi production can’t help but be compared to Bleach. Nirvana, though, was seldom as explicitly political as “A Real Man” (“I don’t wanna join your club/ I don’t want your kind of love”) or “Sold Out,” two kiss-offs to the male gender. The album’s confrontational edge was sharpened by the decision to subordinate Brownstein’s sweeter vocals to Tucker’s (“How to Play Dead” is an exception). Weiss hadn’t yet joined the band and, in retrospect, her absence is deeply felt — Laura MacFarlane’s tempos were sludgy where later discs felt spring-loaded with surprises. Simply put, this is a loud, young, angry rock record by a band that had yet to coalesce: Only two tracks exceeded three minutes long, and “Slow Song” could get away with that title because it was so unusual in context. Nuance would come later.