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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Belle & Sebastian and Sleater-Kinney: New Music Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 12:40 PM

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By 2015, you're either on the Belle & Sebastian bus or you're not. Still, if you fall into the latter category, there's probably no time like the present to hop aboard. The Scottish indie pop's latest album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, is a wistful wonder, replete with plenty of hooks and melodious exploration.

"The Party Line" evokes the album's namesake well (dance! dance!). "Perfect Couples" shows off some percussive flair before descending into Belle & Sebastian's patented brooding stature (paired with, of course, danciness).

We haven't always been able to say this about this band, but (lyrics aside, for the most part), this a fun album. It's ideal for snowy afternoons and record players in your living room. 

It's also a very densely packed album, rife with all sorts of aural moods and a variety of instrumentation. Powerhouse track "Play for Today," the longest cut on the album, features a galaxy of music flowing through Stuart Murdoch and guest Dee Dee Penny's conversation. It's a very good song.

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After the better part of a decade passed under the shade of hiatus for Sleater-Kinney, the riot grrrl pioneers have dropped another riff-heavy entry in their saga on us. And it's a good one. 

No Cities to Love comes 10 years after the band's best album, The Woods, rocked the shit out of mid-2000s American indie. (Jesus, remember the opening chords in "The Fox"? And Carrie Brownstein's quivering screams?)

This time around, the band is sounding highly polished (and not really in a bad way, per se) and clearly very ready to resume their wreckage. "Fangless," for instance, trades fast-paced guitar lines against emotive singing, which is precisely what we expect — the noteworthy element here is just how fresh Sleater-Kinney manages to make all of this sound (as in that wobbly synth beat that bridges chorus to verse). "Bury Our Friends" features all sorts of atmospheric intrigue. Spacey interludes connect heavy power chords throughout this album, all guided by the critical feminism of this most iconic band. 

The New York Times calls this one "the first great album of 2015," and we can't dispute that. 

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