By Cait Brennan, Jan. 29, 2015.

Sweater-Kinney | No Cities To Love | Sub Pop |

Long before she brought the absurdist comedy delights on IFC’s Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein was part of one of the most influential rock bands ever, Sleater-Kinney. From 1994 to its split in 2006, the band tore through seven albums with fearless riot-grrl fury, turning classic rock swagger on its head and shattering decades of stale girl-band stereotypes. Last year, their entire catalog was re-released in a must-have box set, and now they’re back with a powerful new record. This is no nostalgia trip: No Cities To Love might be their best work yet.

The punches come early and often. “Price Tag” calls out modern materialist culture with an angular, stacatto intensity, while “Surface Envy” tears the house down with a blistering Brownstein guitar riff and Corin Tucker’s soaring, howling-wolf vocal on an instant-classic chorus. You couldn’t call it a ballad, but the title track slows things down a bit, with Brownstein singing “I’ve grown afraid of everything that I love.”

The raw power keeps coming. “A New Wave” rocks the frenetic postpunk disaffection with thunderous results, while “No Anthems” paces the floor nervously before breaking into a distorted fury. The band’s power-trio dynamic has never sounded better, with a full, bass-heavy production that feels almost like a live show. “Fade” closes it out with sludgy guitars and a haunting do-not-go-gentle wail. “Tell me what do you see on the last script/yeah it’s a trip, what’s it all for?” Tucker sings. “If we are truly dancing our show, darling, shake it like never before.” Here’s hoping No Cities is no swan song, but just the start of more to come.

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Photo courtesy of The Dinah

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Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

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