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Album review: The Corin Tucker Band's '1,000 Years'

October 5, 2010 |  7:13 pm

CORIN_TUCKER_240_Like the comma in the numeral that begins its title, the debut album by the Corin Tucker Band has a calm, deliberate quality. Pauses are built in. Tucker came to prominence in the 1990s as a member of Sleater-Kinney, an all-female trio that attacked and exploded the power-punk form with feminist swagger and raw pop smarts. Since that group disbanded, she has devoted herself to parenting. “Dig me out!” Tucker shouted in that band; now, she’s more interested in digging in.

“1,000 Years” makes the listener work, not in the brain-teasing way of younger artistes like Joanna Newsom, but by not being flashy. Tucker’s songwriting and the production by bandmate Seth Lorinczi maintain an internal focus. Each song comes together in its own sweet time, whether it’s a keyboard-based ballad or an up-tempo swinger.

This approach complements Tucker’s lyrics, which explore the slow processes of coming to terms with changing realities: a loved one’s impending death in “Big Goodbye”; a friend’s unnamed crisis in “Riley”; and “Dragon” may be about struggling with depression. Tucker’s singing tends to their nuances. The gale force she unleashed in Sleater-Kinney rarely surfaces. Sometimes she really seems to be talking to herself.

Multi-instrumentalist Lorinczi and drummer Sara Lund, who has an airy, loose style, don’t make for a tight unit, but that’s the point here. One song, the sexy “Doubt,” has that famous S-K punch, but in general this music isn’t forceful. It’s still rock, but it flows.

Flow is fine; you can learn a lot from it. “1,000 Years” is a determined effort to go beyond a somewhat burdensome past — and a statement that Tucker is eager to express what’s both beautiful and difficult about full adulthood. “I’ll always trail the life I used to lead,” she sings in “Pulling Pieces.” But this album says she is, in fact, working toward something new.

—Ann Powers

The Corin Tucker Band
“1,000 Years”
(Kill Rock Stars)
Three stars (Out of four)