This was the first Sleater-Kinney album I picked up, shortly after its release. I live in NYC and heard that this album dealt more or less directly with 9/11, which rather screwed with my head. This, of course, in no way makes me unique, but it basically meant that I was going on a review and nothing else. I had no idea what Sleater-Kinney was about, or their sound, or anything.
One Beat is a truly excellent album, the sort that makes you say, "I wish I wrote that," even if you're not a musician (I'm not). The lyrics of the fight songs are concise and honest, but the most striking thing about the album, especially if you're unfamiliar with S-K, is the way that Corin Tucker uses her voice almost like a percussion instrument, and the way that Carrie Brownstein sings backing vocals that are basically another verse being sung at the same time on many tracks. This is evident from the very first track, an immensely powerful song that was really unlike anything I'd ever heard 'til then. The album has some anti-war anthems on it, but the ladies really run the spectrum as far as topics go - one song rocks harder than you can believe, the next is a heart-breaking ballad (S-K is good for one tear-jerker an album, I've found), and the next a mellow rocker.
I listen to a lot of music, and I've got to say that One Beat is an album I recommend without hesitation. The ladies are touring briefly this spring, and then are planning a release later this year. One Beat is a world away, stylistically, from All Hands on the Band One (another good album, and one that many think is their best effort, but either I'm not getting it, or the fact that One Beat was my introduction to them has blinded me to the possibility that their earlier stuff was better - although Call the Doctor is another great album), and I'm looking forward to what their new stuff may be like.