What made Sleater-Kinney special was their sense of rawness, their angst, their sometimes personal and honest, sometimes pseudo-socio-political-but-mostly-just-kind-of-cute lyrics backed by fast drums and rapid 8th and 16th note power chords. 1,000 Years, Corin Tucker’s (now a 37-year-old mother of two) debut solo album, retains a measure of that angst, but it is a noticeably matured angst, if it can still be called angst at all.
To Tucker’s credit, her backing music has matured greatly as well, and there are some really cool musical moments on 1,000 years. “It’s Always Summer”, one of the best songs on the album, features mysterious droning chromatic guitar on the verses, which leads into a chorus of forceful drumming that compliments her loud, straightforward singing as she intones the Will Oldham-esque sentiment: “And you, don’t you forget, I feel a darkness.”
Corin exhibits less vocal youthfulness on this album than she did in her 20s, which is to be expected and, in some cases, to be grateful for. There are a couple of songs, such as “Half A World Away” which after a decent intro quickly turns into a bastardized 1990s No Doubt B-side, where her attempt at passionate vocal intonation becomes grating. But then you have a song like “Doubt”, in which she sings loud enough to rival most Sleater-Kinney songs, and is backed by the 8th note power chords longtime fans will be drooling over. There is no question as to why this song was the album’s main single.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are a couple of songs that hint at a new potential, one that seems a bit more mature and works better with her softer, airier vocals. “Dragon”, for example, the most lyrically haunting song on the album, features violins that follow her breathy vocals beautifully as she speaks of some dark being whom she tries to flee from: “He breathes fire down my neck/ He feels close every day/ Open that door, push him away/ If you let him in, he could take everything.”
This song, unfortunately leads into a several boring, grungy songs that seem to be musically and lyrically attempting to evoke some kind of nostalgia, which, again, die-hard Sleater-Kinney fans may appreciate, but which I personally found to be boring in the 3rd degree. The vocals are unenthusiastic, the lyrics are cheesy, and the moderately fuzzed guitars tend to stick to the same passive selection of two or three benign chords.
The album closes with “Miles Away”, a classy song that, like “Dragon”, showcases Corin’s ability to write a good song that can be soft and melodic without being boring or contrived. Her softly sung vocals are backed by piano and acoustic guitar as she uses the sun and moon as metaphors for someone she used to know in a way that is both cheesy and, admittedly, somewhat touching: “Tell me who needs a sun when it goes away/ sets on me every single day/ darling I’ll get my light from a star [that] is miles away.”
I did not like this album at first, and several tracks remain mediocre and sometimes annoying, but a couple tracks have really grown on me. Having just graduated from the same school as Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, and living just a mile away from Sleater-Kinney road, I have heard my fair share of Corin’s music. Based on what I have heard, and people I have met, I am sure there will be one or two hardcore Riot Grrrl fans that will be disappointed with this album, but they would inevitably be disappointed with something else if it wasn’t this. Wherever you stand regarding Tucker, Sleater-Kinney, or Riot Grrrl, this album represents some of Corin’s best work to date, and certainly her most dynamic.
1. 1,000 Years
2. Half A World Away
3. It's Always Summer
4. Handed Love
8. Pulling Pieces
9. Thrift Store Coats
10. Big Goodbye
11. Miles Away