Preview Of Upcoming Album ...

Less frenetic sound on Get Up.

Sleater-Kinney's work so far has been colored with a relentless urgency:

even the titles of the band's last two albums, Call The Doctor

and Dig Me Out, read like soundbites culled from random 911

dispatch logs. And, thus, the title song from the trio's new three-song

EP, Get Up, comes as something of a surprise.

While Sleater-Kinney has certainly recorded slow songs in the past,

they've mostly been medicated versions of their faster, more furious

ones (see the third track on this EP, "Tapping," for an example). In

contrast, the midtempo "Get Up" is almost breezy. It has all the band's

usual hallmarks -- the jangly, stutter-stepping rhythms of two guitars

circling each other and moving apart and coming together and then moving

apart again, the overlapping lyrics of Corin Tucker and Carrie

Brownstein -- and yet it sounds distinctly different from the band's

earlier work. Sleater-Kinney has always known how to use dissonance,

acceleration and brevity to maximum effect; now they have added a more

developed sense of aural space to their songwriting repertoire. As

Tucker alternates from speaking her lyrics to singing them, her voice

never asserts itself (as it usually does) as the most overpowering

instrument in the Sleater-Kinney arsenal. Wistfulness stands in for the

usual urgency, and it's a welcome substitution.

This, however, is not to say that Tucker has entered some new Quiet Grrl

phase -- at full throttle, she still sounds like Belinda Carlisle

channeling a car alarm, rock's best bet to restore a sense of human

immediacy to a world oversaturated with MC-303s and recycled beats. On

the EP's second track, for example -- a more traditional Sleater-Kinney

offering called "By The Time You're Twenty-Five" that downshifts from

fuzzy rock-god guitar riffing to indignant sing-song introspection --

Tucker wails with characteristic venom as she moves toward the song's

unapologetic conclusion: "I'm not sorry that I beat you at your own

stupid game!"

That, of course, is a declaration ripe for overarching interpretation --

does it signal a shift in attitude that will manifest itself on the

band's upcoming full-length album, The Hot Rock? Ever since

critics everywhere started heralding them as the next big thing, Tucker

and Brownstein have warily regarded the prospect of imminent stardom.

After Dig Me Out (1997), which featured several songs of such

Butch Vigor they seemed only a commercial-minded producer away from the

mallternative-nation crossover appeal of Nevermind, the band

sidetracked itself in favor of oblique side projects like Tucker's

Cadallaca and drummer Janet Weiss' Quasi. But with the sentiments

expressed on "By the Time You're Twenty-Five," and with

The Hot Rock's brash, titular echo of another great rock band's

greatest hits package, it seems as if Sleater-Kinney is now ready to see

where their talent might take them. Once, Tucker announced that she

wanted to be our Joey Ramone -- can we really help it if the band's

first three albums, and now this EP, have convinced us she and her

bandmates should raise the stakes a bit?