If The Center Won’t Hold forces a reconsideration of a band people thought they knew, it’s due to the methodologies employed in the writing and making of the album. The tools upon which Sleater-Kinney had relied proved inadequate, both metaphorically and literally, so they sought new ones. They used the geographical distance between them, along with the larger uncertainty and brokenness swirling around them, as a means of inducing and exploring sonic change. Most concretely, they worked with producer Annie Clark (St. Vincent), who treated each song as its own world, letting them find a specific vernacular through careful construction and deliberation.
The most succinct thing to say about The Center Won’t Hold is that Sleater-Kinney continue to challenge the idea of what three women sound like when they create music together over the course of twenty-five years.