Sleater-Kinney – “Let’s Call it Love”
appears on The Woods
Honourable mentions first – “Sympathy” is a fantastic, bluesy number that perfectly showcases the interaction between Sleater-Kinney’s two vocalists, while “Jumpers” features an excellent, surging guitar riff in its dynamic chorus. Now, The Woods was an awe-inspiring record, with such imposing, crushing guitar lines that it brought the legitimacy of other “rock” music into question – why isn’t everything this huge? At no point was this more evident than on “Let’s Call it Love”, the album’s lumbering, 11-minute penultimate track. If the overall style of The Woods – sludgy classic-rock riffs, fuzzed out production, up-to-eleven mastering that doesn’t really give a shit about imperfect side-effects like audio clipping – were only mildly hinted at by the band’s previous efforts, “Love” was downright unprecedented, with the usually urgent and economical trio trading in slow-boiler hard-rock, long run times and massively indulgent, no-ceiling guitar solos. The song is a confrontational ode to sex and mind-games, with Corin Tucker singing of slow moves, dirty tricks and wanting it more badly than you ever have before, before finally demanding that “you better be my bloody match.” She likens the act of foreplay to a game of poker and a boxing match, and sounds completely breathless by the time she reaches the chorus, agonising over having wasted her life waiting “for the right … let’s call it ‘love'”, absolutely howling on that final word. That’s just the first three minutes. After an exquisite clang of the boxing-bell to commence “Round 2”, the band launch into an enduring, all-encompassing freak out. Having wailed herself into near-oblivion, Tucker steps back momentarily and Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss stir up a striding juggernaut of rhythmic swagger. Once Tucker’s lead guitar re-enters the fray, the interplay between the three is dynamic and precise under the guise of caterwauling mayhem. They ardently refuse to settle into a consistent groove, instead repeatedly upping the ante with new licks, flanged-out connecting passages, tempo changes and killer drum fills. At the exhausting eleven minute mark, as the song finally descends to a close, the atonal, dying squalls of Tucker’s lead guitar can be heard well into the opening of The Woods’ final song, adamantly refusing to be extinguished.