Release Date: May 24, 2005
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Far from the retreat implied in its title, The Woods is another passionate statement from Sleater-Kinney, equally inspired by the call-to-arms of their previous album, One Beat, and the give-and-take of their live sets, particularly their supporting slot on Pearl Jam's 2003 tour. Throughout their career, the band has found ways to refine and elaborate on the fiery spirit that makes them so distinctive without diminishing it. The Woods is no exception -- it may be Sleater-Kinney's most mature and experimental album to date, but unlike most mature and experimental albums released by bands entering their second decade, it doesn't forget to rock like a beast.
Proto-riot grrrls in prog rock shocker! It's taken Sleater-Kinney, three girls who set their fiery feminist ideology to a raw, screeching soundtrack, seven albums to discover the delights of a guitar solo - but it's been worth the wait. As the 11-minute opus Let's Call it Love travels from controlled lust to breathless abandon and back again, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker's guitars plunge deep into dirty rock'n'roll, throwing out sharp chords as they traditionally do slogans, closer to Led Zeppelin than Bikini Kill. Brownstein's voice still seethes with sex, defiance and heartbreak, her life-endangering shrieks a goose bump-inducing thrill, but now she's matched by thunderous basslines, the production turned up to 10.
The three years that have passed since Sleater-Kinney released their last album, 2002’s One Beat, have not been happy ones: between the war in Iraq, the re-election of President Bush, and the appointment of a torture-condoning Attorney General, Americans have plenty to complain about. Nonetheless, as Sleater-Kinney noted on One Beat’s “Combat Rock,” dissent within the music industry seems minimal, as listeners seem to prefer blinged-out rappers and faux-punk suburbanites to anything vaguely political. One Beat’s call to dissent seems to have fallen on deaf ears, and its successor, the tellingly-titled The Woods is rife with frustration and rage.