Sub Pop

SLEATER KINNEY - dig me out LP

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Riot grrrl," "indie rock," "queer punk": Despite their instant-classic "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" – a spiky, romantic anthem off their acclaimed 1996 album Call the Doctor – even "punk rock" doesn't encompass the sheer power of Sleater-Kinney. Although they may shatter guitar conventions a la Sonic Youth, embrace full-blooded emotion like PJ Harvey, write chunky hooks on a par with Kurt Cobain and embody the verve of America's DIY underground, this young all-woman trio from the Pacific Northwest has forged a niche all its own.

On their third album, Dig Me Out, Sleater-Kinney expand on the prodigious racket barely contained on Call the Doctor, adding a New Wavish edge (guitarist and vocalist Corin Tucker's warbly vibrato often recalls Go-Go'sera Belinda Carlisle; meanwhile, "Dance Song '97" sports Devo-esque keyboards of a distinctly '80s vintage). While the Spice Girls prattle on about "girl power," Sleater-Kinney remain the real socket for that energy. Their rants may be issue-laden, but they never devolve into dry-hump discourse – "I think I found a way to put the fun back in sin," Tucker wails on "Heart Factory." They don't shy away from sexual politics' prickliest corners, though; when Tucker caterwauls "Just tell me, baby, what's wrong," on "Not What You Want," it's a true moment of desperate abandon. Backing up the drama is an explosive musical chemistry that mixes infectious melodicism with innovative punk deconstruction. Going bassless, Tucker and co-guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein create a thrilling maze of guitar spirals one moment and kick out the jams with Ramonesstyle power chords the next. In the process, they create a sound that often eclipses their musical forebears. "Girl power," indeed.