SLEATER – KINNEY – ” Path of Wellness “

Posted: June 20, 2021 in MUSIC
<img src="https://cdn.pastemagazine.com/www/articles/2021/06/15/SK-PathofWellness-hd.jpg&quot; alt="Sleater-Kinney Reinvent Themselves as a Duo on <i>Path of Wellness

On Sleater-Kinney’s 10th album Path of Wellness, the aim of the game is joy and letting go of shame and disappointment. The first record without long time drummer Janet Weiss finds the band exploring new directions, with Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker handling all of the production themselves. Tracks like “High In The Grass” and the item’s title track serve as exciting summertime anthems, with repeating lyrics relaying the theme of the album: “I’m on the path of wellness.” On “Complex Female Characters,” vocalist Carrie Brownstein explores the theme of sexism as it relates to people pressuring her to fit a particular form. 10 albums deep into their career, Sleater-Kinney continue to write concise and expressive alt-rock songs that bite to the core.

“Path of Wellness”, the Northwest band’s 10th album (and yeah, let’s get this out of the way, their first as a duo), doesn’t end this tradition exactly. There are no power ballads, no string codas. But Path—even more than 2019’s polarizing The Center Won’t Hold—does present a gentler, groovier Sleater-Kinney, and this one kicks off with the breeziest music of the band’s 25-year career. The title track doesn’t roar to life à la “Dig Me Out” or “The Fox” so much as it stutters and clangs with a clattering, polyrhythmic groove, which becomes the backbeat for Corin Tucker’s double-tracked pleas: “Drain me of my toxins / Drain me of the life I lead,” she sings. Later comes the coy refrain: “I’m on a path of wellness.”

Sleater-Kinney are back to their old tricks, which means trying out some new tricks. The Pacific Northwest punks grabbed the world’s imagination with the 1996 riot-grrrl bombshell Call the Doctor, but ever since, they’ve refused to repeat themselves. Everything about their new album is outside their zone, starting with the title: Path of Wellness. It’s the first album they’ve made as a duo—the band is down to Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, after a painful and public split with longtime drummer Janet Weiss. On Path of Wellness, Sleater-Kinney sound as though Tucker and Brownstein figured there was no way to get back to normal, so they might as well get as weird as possible. 

For Tucker and Brownstein, the recording process provided a respite during last summer as their home city of Portland was shaken by violent clashes between protesters and police, devastating wildfires and of course the unending pandemic. At times, there’s a curious disconnect between the music—breezy riffs that were written pre-pandemic and intended for an outdoor summer tour in 2020

There’s no “loud-quiet-loud” in Sleater-Kinney’s world. Usually, there’s no “quiet,” period. As Carrie Brownstein wrote in her memoir’s, “I can listen to soft songs, but I can’t play them. Even Sleater-Kinney’s lighter songs feel thorny or brittle—they aren’t gentle, and they make horrible background music.”

What Path of Wellness lacks in sonic urgency, it makes up for with a vintage classic-rock swagger that livens up the material considerably. The band has never done anything quite like “High in the Grass,” with its flower-power swoon. And “Method,” which is almost certainly the best thing on here, finds Brownstein zeroing in on a bluesy sleaze-rock aura pitched somewhere between Thin Lizzy and late-’70s Fleetwood Mac.

‘Sleater-Kinney’s New Album ‘Path Of Wellness’ Out Now!

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