Reunions can be a dicey proposition, especially for bands who seemed to have run their course organically and ended on a high note, which Sleater-Kinney certainly did with its heavy-duty 2005 swan song The Woods. Then again, if anyone can be counted on not to simply give into nostalgia and come back just for the heck of it, it would be a band that never took anything for granted and was as committed to its craft as Sleater-Kinney was—or, rather, is.
So it should come as no surprise that Sleater-Kinney hardly seems like it’s been on indefinite hiatus since 2006 when you hear the single “Bury Our Friends”, the first new music from the group’s upcoming January 2015 album No Cities to Love (Sub Pop). A surprise first revealed late last week when fans were blindsided by a cryptic 7” snuck into the career-spanning Start Together vinyl boxset, “Bury Our Friends” sounds like it could be nicely filed between 2000’s All Hands on the Bad One and 2002’s One Beat: The new track finds Sleater-Kinney at its most frenetic and vibrant, as Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein trade off vocals to bristling guitars that perhaps nod as much to Franz Ferdinand’s danceable post-punk as the trio’s own angular, wiry lines. But again, “Bury Our Friends” isn’t just a crowd-pleasing blast-from-the-past, and they let you know it when they announce, “We’re sick with worry / These nerveless days,” only to defy the undercurrent of anxiety that pervades the present-day. So when Tucker and Brownstein chant, “Exhume our idols,” in the chorus, there’s no way they’re referring to themselves, because “Bury Our Friends” is so vital it makes you believe Sleater-Kinney never exited the stage to begin with.