Sleater-Kinney Discovers Its Restrained Side On ‘Path Of Wellness’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

The newest release from Sleater-Kinney, Path Of Wellness, finds the duo of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein self-producing for the first time in their career and moving slightly away from the electro-dance-based The Center Won’t Hold while keeping many mainstream influences. Coming through the pandemic Tucker and Brownstein seem to be searching for sound and real connections, dabbling with different ideas while never settling down.   

During the confused “Methods” Tucker sings “I got a little sedation in me/I got a tiredness I just can’t take” and that sensation permeates the full record; the urgency is gone. There is a relaxed calmness to many of the songs that recall mid 70’s rock radio. It is as if old vinyl’s from The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan were well-worn friends during the duo’s lockdown as “Shadow Town”, “Down The Line” and the mellow pleading album closer “Bring Mercy” are influenced heavily by this era.

The group still can slice modern as their dalliance with electro-rock continues on the pulsing “Favorite Neighbor” before flaunting noise credentials on the twisting “Tomorrow’s Grave”. The feminist odes of the quirky and cutting “No Knives” and the more elaborate “Complex Female Characters” are very well done, however the best songs are found in the opening trio.

The title track is a mix of the band’s pop love and meaty rock guitars while the bass leading “High In The Grass” features the most beautiful singing of Tucker’s entire career.  “Worry With You” is a stout offering with great pandemic-inspired lyrics and dynamite guitars, but it doesn’t go over the top like some of the band’s highlight past efforts. 

Path of Wellness lacks the punch of the groups’ highest points and the more restrained searching style leaves a few of the tracks lacking, but Sleater-Kinney is open to trying anything at this point in their excellent career and continue to craft intriguing songs.

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