Sleater-Kinney The Woods (Sub Pop) Some 16 years after Nirvana released the Bleach LP on Sub Pop, Sleater-Kinney have entrusted the Seattle-based label with their long-awaited return. The Woods is the aural manifestation of all that is grit and grime. Having moved away from fellow Oregonians Le Tigre's end of the spectrum, the female trio are more raw and dirtier than ever. Corin Tucker must be near to bursting blood vessels on opener The Foxx. It takes getting used to if you're a Sleater-Kinney virgin. That said, die-hard S-K fans have been surprised and blown away by the sheer power in Tucker's delivery of each track. Janet Weiss, up there with the most exciting and innovative drummers of the last decade, pulverises the drum kit for all it's worth. Jumper is one of the album's many highlights along with the 11-minute Let's Call it Love which features a breathtaking guitar solo courtesy of Carrie Brownstein. For all the dark and brooding images the album's name conjures up, tracks such as Modern Girl are soft and cute amid the fuzz of the distortion. 'My whole life is like a picture of a sunny day,' sings Tucker, and you can't help but believe her. S-K are lucky in that Tucker's voice is as versatile as a chameleon, switching from wisps and sighs to shrill ear-piercing screams; with vibrato, naturally. S-K aren't a part of the dying breed of Riot Grrl bands and their ilk, they aren't exactly punk and they're veering away from an indie label. The direction they're taking is unexpected and refreshing. They aren't poster girls for brats or girly girls yet it's their intrinsic femininity, the pounding drums, and the deep and low guitars that make them pin-ups for some scene out there. What this scene is exactly, is hard to define. Why define sheer brilliance, anyway?