Recordings: Sleater-Kinney – The Woods

Usually when critics praise a band’s maturity, it’s a signal for the music fan that the music has gone to shit. For example, the critical acclaim of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ recent works Californication and By the Way was another way of saying that the band needed to go back to shooting dope.

Sleater-Kinney – The Woods

Sleater-Kinney are the exception to the rule. The Woods finds the band matured with a sophistication that its riot grrrl counterparts never reached. Their classic, raw sound still roars, however, and will undoubtedly piss off local Republicans. But Sleater-Kinney are more than a pissing contest; their sound is refined to a level that few bands can accomplish. Shoot, how many bands can you count that piss off Republicans?

Too many, no doubt. Sleater-Kinney have instead found on Woods the common ground between raucous rockin’ and experimental snobbin’. Songs such as “The Fox,” “The Wilderness” and “Modern Girl” are staples of solid rocking. On the other end of the spectrum, the songs “Let’s Call It Love” and “Night Light” are glorious experimental adventures into the realm of improv rock. This stellar combination of rock straightforwardness with experimental zest will surely please a diverse crowd, thus making The Woods easily one of the best releases in 2005.