Sleater Kinney 
One Beat
/kill rock stars; 2002/

rating : 8.5



more info :

I suppose we must call them riot girls, because there is always a riot going on somewhere. Two guitars and drums, this may sound familiar but yet the three of them paved their prolific discography with creativity and evolution. I have registered 6 albums so far, including this excellent one, all released by Matador-Kill Rock Stars. Their debut in the mid-nineties was a classical punk-ish three piece material which has progressively evolved towards a more melodic tone in the middle records (The Hot Rock, All Hands on the Bad One). They have never really fell for some kind of pop disease but calmed down in a way, improving the quality of the compositions and that of lyrics (you canít get to heaven with a three chord song / they called you a sinner but the people want to sing along). Sleater Kinney has always been a rather confidential underground entity, which is good in a way but constantly casts doubt upon a long term career. Now letís talk about sex baby, letís talk about you and me.

One Beat is a perfect sequel to a painful lo-fi bad trip. Joyful, dark, refined, chill out, harsh. This is again a rather meaningless proclamation but why did they shot Highlander 2, 3 and 4 ? Once you got accustomed to the high pitched vocals and sometimes weird structures, you let the catchy songs grow on you. The eponymous title is a powerful two chord hymn about nonsense love. Combat rock combines a feminist discourse with a shivering ambiance, just like Sympathy is an unexpected ballad about loss (itís the grammar of the skin / peel it back let me in / look for hope in the dark / I beg on bended knees for him). The general quality and diversity of the arrangements is remarkable. I might be shot down in flames by my good sense but the only known band I can compare them with is Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, if only it had abandoned blues for pop rock, a Sleater Kinney Pop Explosion. SKís music is not constricted into one particular style or mood and I now find it hard to explain why I like it (I bet you had already understood that).


A week has passed and I have closely listened to the 6 SK albums I own and reached a conclusion, in three points. First, I should get to bed earlier. Two, SK is an unique band one either adore or listen from afar (stupid again). Finally, One Beat is unquestionably their best album up to date, lyric-wise and riff-wise. So if you want to discover them, you should start with this one.

-Angus Anderson

/oct  1st 2002/