Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sleater-Kinney: No Cities to Love [Sub Pop, 2015]
This return to the wars isn't necessarily their best album, but that it might be is an up in itself. Their pride is their joy, their standards are high, and they show no sign of getting back together because they could use the payday, although except for Carrie I expect they could--between its noisy desperation and its narrative detail, the clashing Corin opener "Price Tag" nails the overbooked constraints of the strapped middle class like she knows them by heart. Honed back down to punky three-minute songs because the leisure to stretch out is a luxury they can't presently afford, the music carries the seed of tumult to come, the sense that something or everything could explode without notice just the way this album did. My only cavil is that I wish the singing would relax more, even at the cost of softening the album's tension, and note that Carrie lets herself go that way on a kind of love song that links fame with mediocrity in the rare woe-I'm-a-star number fueled by emotions anyone can feel the point of. A