It is kind of strange listening to Corin Tucker with a bass player, and without the backing of Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss in riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney. Admittedly, at first I found myself missing Brownstein’s guitar chops, and the rhythmic awesomeness of Weiss. This isn’t to say that Tucker is a guitar slouch, by any means, just that Brownstein is one of the best living guitarists out there, and Weiss delivers an amazing syncopated punch that other drummers just can’t match.
And so perhaps it is a bit unfair to compare 1,000 Years with the previous work of Corin Tucker with Sleater-Kinney. The truth is, though, that S-K defined my adolescence. For me, at least, Tucker will always be linked to my seventeen-year old self. As an example, is there any Sopranos fan out there who was able to watch Where the Wild Things Are without conjuring images of Tony driving down the New Jersey Turnpike? But, the fact is that Tucker is plenty talented without the backing of her former mates. Frankly, with the strength of her new tracks and musical cohorts, I (almost) don’t even miss Brownstien and Weiss.
There have already been many reviews of this album, talking about the relative restraint of Tucker’s voice as compared with her time in S-K. It’s true the operatic bellow is turned down. But damn if she still doesn’t have a fantastic set of pipes and a range that is a bit easier to appreciate without the characteristic aggressive ululations of her S-K days. I should mention that while she is a bit more restrained in places, (such as on “Dragon and “Miles Away” where there are way more violins and acoustic guitars than ever appeared on any S-K album) she nonetheless has moments of uptempo howl on tracks like “Doubt” and “Pulling Pieces” where she sounds quite a bit like circa-1997 Corin Tucker.
I suppose what defines her new band is the focus, which is squarely on Tucker. S-K had Tucker, of course, but there was also the oomph of Weiss’ drumming prowess, along with the meticulous guitar mastery and vocals of Brownstein to make each album feel like a grand exercise in teamwork. 1,000 Years feels more like The Foo Fighters’ The Colour and the Shape.
There is absolutely no question that this album is Corin Tucker’s, just like there was no doubt that Dave Grohl was the one responsible on his album. Tucker’s band does an amazing job of emphasizing Tucker’s vocal talents. “It’s Always Summer” and “Handed Love,” for instance, contain fairly little in terms of instrumentation, which isn’t terribly necessary anyway with the power of Tucker’s voice.
I am a huge Sleater-Kinney fan, but I have already grown to accept that they are no longer together. I would be upset if Corin Tucker was trying to recreate S-K in her new band. But thankfully, that is clearly not the case on 1,000 Years, but I actually wish she pushed herself a little bit more outside of the S-K comfort zone and into some more daring territory. Sure, she’s far more restrained here than on The Woods, but the giant shadow of her former band still looms.