One More Hour
"At the most basic level, Sleater-Kinney build their music on the dialogue between Brownstein and Tucker: Two complementary/contentious guitars, neither of which owns the "lead"; two voices, one poised and contained, one gross and furious," said critic Terri Sutton, describing Dig Me Out. According to Brownstein, her and Tucker's voices are "not complete without the other person's part." Sutton continues: "It's tempting to face them off…as reason vs. emotion, or sardonic commentary and action. They are those things, and yet they are not. Their meaning shifts, mutates, much as the relationship between these two women has changed, will change."
This description hits the nail on the head: at its core, the music in "One More Hour" is about the relationship between Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker. Their voices, their guitars, and their emotions push back and forth against each other. From start to finish, it is difficult to tell which of the two women is singing, and the guitars begin as two voices before melding into one.
The song strikes out on a mission of emotional directness from the first measure, with a low guitar part suggesting a bass line, accompanied by a deep, calm, rock n' roll drum beat. A screaming second guitar comes in above the first before Tucker begins to sing. The two distinct guitar parts play off of each other, seeming to converse.
With the first "Oh you've got the darkest eyes," the song turns from conversation to argument. Without warning, Brownstein's voice comes in a full octave below Tucker, the drummer hits the high hat, and the guitar parts both shift. Brownstein and Tucker sing in unison over a strangely major chord progression. The guitar parts move to the center of the scale and become difficult to distinguish from one another, and Tucker and Brownstein throw their voices together in a style that has been compared to the medieval singing style known as the hocket, where one singer completes another's lines to produce a spooky, spiritual musical effect. Many a critic has called their music "angular"; indeed, they are like geometric shapes that fit together in new ways with each chorus and verse.
As in most Sleater-Kinney songs, Corin Tucker's famously quavering voice (known by band members as "The Tool") drives its intensity. Some people can't stand the sound, but Tucker says she cultivated it intentionally (quoted here): "My actual voice is not that different from anybody else's. The first Heavens to Betsy record that we recorded I sing really low and deep. But eventually we played more live shows, and the songs I sang that were sort of higher and freakier, people would be so freaked out. That tension and that craziness is what I always wanted to create. I worked really hard to sing like that."
"I needed it," she cries in that cultivated howl. Below her, Brownstein pushes back "I know, I know, I know." After a final verse and the heartbreaking bridge about the other girl, the guitars spread out again into a tightly woven mass of sound characterized by a classic driving punk riff. Suddenly, without warning, the noise diminishes to that bare plucked opening with two distinct guitar parts, hits a final chord, and fades.