Welp, I seem to have fallen asleep again last night with my hands soused in honey, listening to Sleater-Kinney’s new album: Path of Wellness. Does that make any sense? Excuse me, I’m still a little bit disoriented from this slap-stick, rock-and-roll wonderland of an album. Is that T. Rex? Did they just channel Marc Bolan? Lord help me, I can feel my old ways stealing back in!
Path of Wellness is Sleater-Kinney’s third album since their reunion in 2015 after a decade-long hiatus. Sleater-Kinney is largely composed, in studio, of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (yes, that Carrie Brownstien), who have remained constant in all of the band’s releases. Janet Weiss, Katie Harkin, St. Vincent, and a number of others have played, produced, and performed live with the band at varying periods since its inception in 1995, however no previous members excluding the two former appear on Path of Wellness and instead we see Vince Lirocchi and Brian Koch on percussion. This isn’t necessarily to our chagrin though, as we are treated to a more mature, finished sound than on previous S-K records. As expected we find them punching well above their weight with this first time self-production.
By the way, is this album laughing at you? This thing is just way cooler than you are. The title track greets us with a whimsical conk before unleashing a tour de force of glam, blues, and rock; opening with the three singles released from the album: “High in the Grass,” “Worry With You,” and the charged “Method,” for which some manner of demonology must have been implemented to return Bolan’s spirit to us for a time. (Forgive them father, they know not what they do.)
The album only grows more impressive from there, but don’t take my word for it.
Well-being is a prescribed and commodified journey … Nature, including human nature, can’t be wholly restrained. After all, life is messy and nuanced: Illness, injustice, terror … There is not a simple cure or solution. To sit with discomfort and ambiguity takes perseverance and empathy…
The songs on the album explore the supposed path as fragile, tumultuous, and unpredictable. They wrestle with states of vulnerability and fear, but they also embrace hope and compassion. Some of the characters on the album are lacking compassion, others are grappling with and yearning for it, some are asking for it outright.
We appreciate and are grateful for every iteration of this band … we hope this record meets you where you are, if not now, then maybe someday.
To be continued. Hope to see you on tour. With love, S-K.