The Center Won't Hold

Sleater-Kinney - The Center Won't Hold
Critic Score
Based on 35 reviews
2019 Ratings: #309 / 767
User Score
Based on 373 ratings
2019 Ratings: #686
Liked by 5 people
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A.V. Club

Thank goodness that, after 25 years, Sleater-Kinney is striding boldly into the future, bruised and broken but still very much alive.

Consequence of Sound

I don’t know how to approach criticisms that The Center Won’t Hold betrays what Sleater-Kinney should be because the band sounds as much like itself as ever: perceptive, raw, and fiercely devoted to sound as power.

The soundtrack might have changed, but there’s still plenty of antagonistic glory to be found.

The Centre Won’t Hold sees them as vital, compelling and as searingly relevant as ever.

The Line of Best Fit

With a new chapter beginning for the band, they have provided the perfect platform for future exploration and experimentation.

Loud and Quiet

Life passes by quickly and the world is crumbling, but Sleater-Kinney are doing what they do best – saying something important while still having a blast.


‘The Center Won’t Hold’ doesn’t feel like a picture of a band in flux - it is a band emerging, fully realised, into a new form. With this album, there is little doubt that Sleater-Kinney know the trick to reinvention.


It should be celebrated as a brave left turn, where one of indie rock's most consistent bands took a giant creative leap 25 years into their career and stuck the landing with poise.


An intelligent, exploratory walk-through of the psycho-social confines of our existence. It doesn’t always feel that comfortable, but it’s not meant to.

Propelled by sharp, angular sounds, ‘The Center Won’t Hold’ craves connection above everything else in a world that can often seem desperately lonely. Each dirty and distorted throb (unlocked to full potential by Annie Clark’s gift for making guitars sound positively devilish) seems to yearn for another body to hold onto.
The Guardian
Losing Weiss will be a trauma in itself, but Sleater-Kinney have announced that they are survivors, making fires out of friction.
Northern Transmissions

The Center Won’t Hold is an album made of sturdy, resilient stuff; it’s built to weather the storm no matter how strong.

Rolling Stone
Sleater-Kinney have always made meaning in physical spaces where we can experience sweaty liberation from dated rock tropes. Here, physical connection feels more essential than ever.
The Independent
Sleater-Kinney are as potent now as they ever were – their music spiky and confrontational, melding the personal and political to striking effect.
FLOOD Magazine
They remain faithfully yours in taut, ruthless, uncompromising rock and roll. But to their credit, they’re also uninterested in coasting on legacy.

Full of transformation and deserved indignation, The Center Won’t Hold is the first Sleater-Kinney album since the rest of the world started to catch up.


St. Vincent’s sleek, streamlined production stands out from the rest of the band’s catalog, but all of the elements you first fell in love with are still here.

Under The Radar

The Center Won't Hold works best when it is palpably teeming with lust, sadness, or frustration. While this is not a political album in the way 2002's One Beat was, there is a clear struggle on display over modern female and queer identities and how it has evolved throughout Sleater-Kinney's career.

The 405

Sometimes on The Center Won’t Hold Sleater-Kinney are the ones offering the strength, but more often they’re the vulnerable party looking for someone to lift them up.

Some of these words may be a bit on the nose, but when heard as part of a web of retro synths, echoey guitars, and tightly controlled rhythms, the effect is powerful: it's an album that forces the listener to abandon nostalgia and accept that things are different now.
Crack Magazine

The prophetically-titled The Center Won’t Hold is a sure stride rather than a misstep.

Slant Magazine

In many places, these songs feel derivative in a way that the band’s music never has before.

The Observer

The strangest thing about the album ... is the nagging sense of try-hard: Sleater-Kinney have always felt effortless.

No Ripcord

What's absent about The Center Won't Hold is that it presents a powerful and necessary premise, only to find out that there's not much of a message behind it. Sleater Kinney sure have a lot to say, but overall, they don't end up saying much.

The Needle Drop

Sleater-Kinney tries new things throughout The Center Won't Hold and, more often than not, they don't pan out.

Spectrum Culture
Sleater-Kinney’s open-hearted, visceral attitude has always been its best attribute, helping them to stand out in the irony-poisoned ‘90s and poising them to feel fresh even today. This cooing, sardonic tone is so antithetical to their true selves that it feels like the work of a parodic band on “Portlandia” instead of one of rock’s last luminaries.
In What Universe Is This Not A Disappointment
The award for most ironic title of the year goes to...

Sleater-Kinney's new album isn't bad, but it fails to quell the narratives that surrounded the record during its rollout. The Center Won't Hold has some of Sleater-Kinney's sleekest releases, but also their clunkiest. Instead of feeling like three women unified as one powerful voice, the album sounds like a schizophrenic and bland amalgamation of decisions fighting for center stage.

Sleater-Kinney's music is an exercise in balance. ... read more
august 16: a day of disappointments.
St. Vincent's production saves a lot of this record but i'm afraid it's numerous flaws prove too much even for that silver lining.

This is such a mixed bag, on one hand there are a few specks of genuinely great music being put on this record but on the other hand it's such a shallow mess conceptually and at times musically. For ecample on Ruins, the track that seems to be an attempt for the core of this album, the production seems to be very good at the beginning that is until the first chorus ... read more
A record that starts on a noisy note and closes on a somber one - with enough abrasive, rugged compositions paired with softer ones plays out very well throughout this and I highly enjoyed it. Glad to have stayed away from listening to the previously released singles.
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Track List

  1. The Center Won't Hold
  2. Hurry On Home
  3. Reach Out
  4. Can I Go On
  5. Restless
  6. Ruins
  7. LOVE
  8. Bad Dance
  9. The Future Is Here
  10. The Dog/ The Body
  11. Broken
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Added on: May 23, 2019