When a seminal band breaks up and its members go on to new projects, the output and fan reaction is usually mixed. Many musicians go out of their way to ensure that their new project is a complete break with the past without realizing that change can be awkward and unnatural for their fans who yearn for the sound of the good ol’ days. After an ambitious debut that was a departure from her legendary band, Sleater-Kinney, Corin Tucker went back to her roots on Kill My Blues and shows why her brand of lo-fi indie punk had such a strong following in the first place.
Clocking in at under two and a half minutes, lead track “Groundhog Day” is a ferocious return to Tucker’s hard rocking ways. The song’s lyrics are powerful and focus on getting feminists fired up and ready to go, which is reflected in her aggressive vocals — a staple of Sleater-Kinney’s sound. Combine that with driving guitars and heavy drums, and you have a song that not only has a vintage Tucker vibe, but also channels aspects of Sonic Youth.
Most of the songs move briskly and serve as a reminder of what straightforward indie rock sounded like before bands tried to “out indie” each other. Tucker’s energy, along with her terrific backing band’s prowess, makes this an album you can’t help but bob your head along to. The best example of this is on “Neskowin.” The driving pace of the song works so well with Tucker’s trademark high-pitched yelp, distorted synths and lo-fi guitars, that even the obligatory guitar solo comes as a nice break in the action.
Songs like “Joey,” “Outgoing Message” and “Blood, Bones, and Sand” are a nice change of pace, but that doesn’t mean they lack urgency. There’s a certain charm about a song that moves along, yet allows for a band to show their collective musical prowess, and that’s what these do. It’s almost as if the band wants to prove to listeners that after hearing an album of sharp punk tracks that they can do other things just as well.
For many, indie rock used to be an offspring of punk. It’s hard to imagine in 2012 that this was once the case, but Kill My Blues combines the ferocious energy of punk with lo-fi rock, something that made Sleater-Kinney popular amongst the riot grrl crowd. While fans still long for the day that her earlier outfit reforms, Tucker firmly has her eyes on her current project and it’s safe to say that after a debut that took musical risks, her band has found its sound, which is pretty badass in its own right.