The Corin Tucker Band’s mellow debut 1,000 Years lacked the trademark vocal rawness of Tucker’s Sleater-Kinney days, but the singer’s uninhibited wailings and breaks return in Kill My Blues. She opens with the line, “Que paso? I’ve just woken up / like Rip Van Winkle in a denim miniskirt,” suggesting awareness of the previous album’s reception and promising more fierceness this time around.
Tucker recently portrayed UK punk legend Poly Styrene in a music video, but her lower tone and propensity for storytelling are more reminiscent of X’s Exene Cervinka. Tucker also shares Cervinka’s problem of going a little flat when she gets carried away, most notably on the track I Don’t Want to Go. The authenticity of emotion is preferable to dehumanizing autotune, but the flat moments can be jarring. Having said that, most the singing sounds incredible.
Groundhog Day’s wandering guitar and twinkling bells create a compelling atmosphere as Tucker introduces herself. As it picks up with a countrified punk riff, Tucker lets loose with feminist fulminations, asking, “Instead of going forward / Where the hell are we going now?” Feminist views also appear in the very catchy Neskowin (“Darling, I know / I don’t go like the other girls”) and Outgoing Message, a song with a nifty irregular shifting melody (“We’re not making songs for suburban little girls”).
Escape is another theme, found in Constance, and the rockabilly tracks No Bad News Tonight and Summer Jams. Tucker is in a transitional stage right now, trying to balance her career with motherhood, and these songs may relate to that part of her personal life.
Other tracks are eclectic. The slightly spooky None Like You starts like an Irish folk song: “Come gather, children, gather around,” and best showcases Tucker’s storytelling talents and trademark wailing. Blood, Bones and Sand, the one consistently slow song, has a heavy, 1940s blues feel. Tiptoe exemplifies the band’s soft and loud dichotomy with the lyrics: “Tiptoe through my own bedroom / bombs going off.”
Like the best punk albums, Kill My Blues is simultaneously current and evergreen — feminist lyrics address the women’s issues discussed in politics today, yet contain an ideology that will resonate with unconventional girls in any era.