You'd never know this was Sleater-Kinney's first album in a decade, their eighth in total. The hugely anticipated No Cities To Love, recorded in secret last year, is fierce, forceful, vibrant - far from another phoned-in reunion or attempt to cash in on the success of the Olympia-formed trio's post-SK careers (Carrie Brownstein's hit show Portlandia; Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss's now dead Wild Flag project, etc).
Singer/guitarist Corin Tucker's solo career didn't catch fire quite the same way, but here she's brings it the hardest. Her confrontational vocals, in concert with Brownstein's, bark and shout about friends dying, the high price of conformity, how their scars make them breathe in deep. The 10 songs are tense and commanding, loaded with nervy post-punk charge, ricocheting rhythms and electric guitars both zippy and busy and wild and bucking. (And is that a nod to Lita Ford's Kiss Me Deadly in Hey Darling's chorus?)
Occasionally the singing is so possessed as to get overbearing, but then everyone comes in shouting and the power of it raises the hair on your arms. "No need for sleep this time around," they sing on single Bury Our Friends, and aren't we glad it's true.
Top track: No Anthems
Sleater-Kinney play Sound Academy March 2.