The Woods (Sub Pop)

For the past decade, Sleater-Kinney has won a sizable fan base with a perfectly decent pop-rock formula. Atypical guitar chords, foot-tapping rhythms and Corin Tucker’s polarizing voice have kept listeners guessing over six albums, cementing the trio’s status as an American indie-rock mainstay. So who would have thought that The Woods could make 10 years of music seem so complacent? The band’s seventh album is a career-changing behemoth, charged with kidney-punch production that makes every crackling chord and thudding drum sound murderous. Opener “The Fox” is out for blood—its overloaded mega-riffs let up only for Tucker’s quick gasps of air, and she speaks volumes when closing the song by screaming, “There’s no looking back.” The poppy jangle of “What’s Mine Is Yours” is supercharged with a raw guitar undercurrent, and its muddy, feedback-laden breakdown turns the whole thing into a classic, while “Jumpers” evolves from tension to utter panic thanks to guitarist Carrie Brownstein’s best-ever S-K vocal performance. There’s also the charm of “Modern Girl,” the drum-heavy anthem of “Entertain” and the 11-minute classic-rock rampage of “Let’s Call It Love.” Hell, even The Woods’ lesser songs overshadow older material. After 10 years, consider this new release a greatest-hits album.
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