An industrial beat clangs as a low drone hums. Carrie Brownstein howls, "I need something pretty / To help me ease my pain," as Corin Tucker sings the ominous response: "The center won't hold." A spacious, nervous guitar line emerges from the ether as synths gurgle like boiling sludge. A little over a minute into the title track from The Center Won't Hold, a crisp, intricate drum pattern from Janet Weiss plays both with and against the riotous clang.
This is a sleeker, darker direction only teased on Sleater-Kinney's two previous singles ("Hurry on Home" and "The Future is Here") that explodes into a nasty riff-rocker that wouldn't be out of place on a Nine Inch Nails record. "The Center Won't Hold" certainly deconstructs the Sleater-Kinney sound, but still understands the push-and-pull dynamic that has defined the band for so long.
"The Center Won't Hold" is the first single released since Janet Weiss announced she was leaving the group. "The band is heading in a new direction and it is time for me to move on," she tweeted earlier this month.
In response to a question on her personal Instagram account, Carrie Brownstein addressed the news further:
What am I supposed to say? She left. We asked her to stay. We tried. It's hard and sad. Most people would ask me, "Hey are you ok?" That's the human response. She's left us with a job to do, a job we also expected and wanted her to be a part of. Her playing on this record is amazing and she's raved about this album to us and to Annie. But we have to keep looking to the future. Things change, even when those changes are hard and unexpected. Four amazing women worked on this record and we are going to honor that work. So, what's up? The usual...Women picking up the pieces when someone quits, because we have to and we want to. We're going to keep going because we believe in ourselves and it's a privilege to get to play music for people. It's a new chapter. And all artistic entities have many chapters, if they're lucky. Either the music will resonate or it won't.
The Center Won't Hold comes out out Aug. 16 via Mom+Pop.