October 1st, 2000

Sleater-Kinney - All Hands on the Bad One

Sleater-Kinney All Hands on the Bad One (kill rock stars 2000)

By Jeanne Kalosieh

They are the saviors of rock.

They know how to rock. Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss are painfully smarter than the competition and they know it.  All Hands on the Bad One is another chapter in the Sleater-Kinney textbook. The Bad One is sassier, classier, and rougher than anything they’ve written in the past.  After the first listen, you may not like it as much as you thought you would.  But swallow it down, that jagged little pill.

The Bad One is a much more political album, and Sleater-Kinney could give a shit if you’re a member of their party.  After living through a year of misogynist music, Fred Durst, Detroit rappers, and Woodstock rapers, is it any wonder that Sleater-Kinney lashed out?  This band is a different brand of girl-power – one that doesn’t victimize women or pretty them up.  Rather, this brand exalts women’s innate ass-kicking potential.  It’s the brand that popular culture forgot exists.

Tucker’s unbridled wailing strikes out with a caustic aftertaste that wasn’t as harsh on their last CD, The Hot Rock.  The guitars are less intricate; there’s little head-on collision this time around.  Brownstein and Tucker are playing on the same stylistic plane, making the harmonies a bit less fierce.  The power of the Bad One lies elsewhere.  The bite comes from the overlapping and energy shifting on the vocals.  Brownstein sings with clean precision, while Tucker’s yelping soars and Weiss acts as the shadow.

Some of the better songs include the head-banging “Ironclad,” the party-pooper salute, “You’re No Rock N Roll Fun,” the ear-ripping “Youth Decay,” and the funny, scorned-lover tune, “Milkshake and Honey.”  To hear Sleater-Kinney working together at their best, try the title track, which contains the album’s most inventive musical arrangement.

To sum up the Bad One’s presiding emotional charisma, listen to the killer track, “Male Model.”  A fed-up Tucker sings “he talks to me in my sleep.  Does he write my songs for me?  Should I try to play just like him?  You always measure me by him.  I’m so sick of tests.  Go ahead and FLUNK MY ASS!!  Cuz you don’t own the situation honey, you don’t own the stage.  We’re here to join the conversation, we’re here to raise the stakes.”

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