Listen Up: Wednesday, October 3, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Sleater-Kinney

One Beat Kill Rock Stars Records

By Matthew Smith

Though no one I know reads Time for its arts coverage, the magazine got something right by recently naming Sleater-Kinney “America’s best band” — even though most Americans have never heard of, let alone heard, the group. Such accolades aside, the all-female Oregon trio remains a big fish in the indie-rock pond and well outside the mainstream currents.

And, well, that’s no good because SK is yet another example of an illustrious outfit that should be a household name instead of an obscure, record-geek reference point.

Enough griping. One Beat is a continuation of the traditions that made the devoted fall for the band in the first place. Corin Tucker’s angst-driven voice remains among rock’s best. And Carrie Brownstein’s sinewy guitar runs and Janet Weiss’ explosive percussion add depth to the proceedings.

Better still, while most any other band at this point in its career would settle into a comfortable, reliable rut, SK continues to grow. One Beat marks music’s most thoughtful reflection on 9/11 since Springsteen’s The Rising. Where the Boss searched for spiritual comfort and understanding, SK unleashes a wail of pain and fear while openly attacking blind patriotism and political motive.

“Sympathy” is, on one hand, a desperate prayer to God for the life of a child and, on the other, a primal scream, an open-wound breakdown over “those who didn’t make it.” Depressing as this sounds, the song is also the year’s most affecting and beautiful piece of artistry.

If all of this sounds rather dreary, like an important album you’re supposed to respect more than enjoy, it’s not. One Beat has smart and intelligent content but it also positively pulsates infectious energy and fun.


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