After over a decade without new music, the Chicks have released their latest album, Gaslighter, which is finally out after a further pandemic-extended wait. It’s a welcome return for the group that scratches a years-long itch. The Chicks are back with all of the same twang and strings; with a little more synth-pop energy thanks, at least in part, to co-producer Jack Antonoff; and, of course, with something to say. This is the first new Chicks music they’ve released since “Not Ready to Make Nice” after all. Much of the album centers on Maines’s divorce (and bad men — ahem, Donald Trump — in general), and the group does not hold back. It all makes for a fun time for the listener; so, here are the hottest burns off Gaslighter. Proceed with caution.
‘Cause, boy, you know exactly what you did on my boat, and, boy, that’s exactly why you ain’t comin’ home.
Kicking off the album strong here with a reference to the Nautalee, lead singer Natalie Maines’s ex-husband’s boat, which he apparently used for some, uh, activities other than sailing. A boat that Maines bought for him. The album’s title track is full of little burns, but this one’s the toothiest.
“Sleep at Night”
My husband’s girlfriend’s husband just called me up, how messed up is that? It’s so insane that I have to laugh.
A biting lyric that also requires a family tree or flowchart to follow along with the messiness. That’s when you know you’re getting the good stuff.
Remember you brought her to our show at the Hollywood Bowl. She said, “I love you, I’m such a fan.” I joked that you can love me as long as you don’t love my man. There’s nothin’ funny about that.
Just real delicious specificity here. Though for legal purposes I must write that this is purely speculation, and that this could absolutely, totally, definitely be a fictional scenario.
Standin’ with Emma and our sons and daughters. Watchin’ our youth have to solve our problems. I’ll follow them, so who’s comin’ with me? Half of you love me, half already hate me.
Not at all a surprising stance for the Chicks, but still a nice reminder that they truly no longer give a fuck about the country-music scene or their conservative fandom. Simply saying they were ashamed to share a state with George W. Bush got them canceled back in the day; can you imagine if they’d come after the Second Amendment then? (The “Emma” referenced is Emma González, one of the survivors of the Parkland school shooting who became a vocal gun-reform activist following the tragedy.)
Tell the ol’ boys in the white bread lobby what they can and can’t do with their bodies. Temperatures are risin’, cities are sinkin’. Ah, cut the shit, you know your city is sinkin’. Lies are truth and truth is fiction, everybody’s talkin’, who’s gonna listen? What the hell happened in Helsinki?
Climate change. Abortion rights. Alternative facts. This verse gets into all of that, but the best part is a subtle reference to Donald Trump. (Also, if you had “uses the word Helsinki in a lyric” on your Chicks bingo card, congrats. You win.) To jog your memory: In 2018, Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin met in Helsinki, Finland, for a summit. Trump defended Russia, claiming, against the FBI, that Russia had not interfered with the 2016 election.
“Tights on My Boat”
And you can tell the girl who left her tights on my boat that she can have you now.
The song’s title, “Tights on My Boat,” gets its moment in the chorus. I don’t really know what else to say that “you can tell the girl who left her tights on my boat that she can have you now” doesn’t really say. Just, oof.
I hope you never find a sock to match the other one. Hey, will your dad pay your taxes now that I am done?
This is the perfect setup for a spike. The first line about socks — mundane, a trivial annoyance. And then … the Chicks go for the jugular.
Remember when you wouldn’t come away with me? Sent your mom instead, yeah, that was a real thing.
Again, we love an anecdotally specific lyric. Laser-sharp focus for a searing insult.
“Set Me Free”
Decency would be for you to sign and release me. If you ever loved me, then will you do this one last thing? Set me free, set me free.
The album’s final track, “Set Me Free,” is a ballad, and doesn’t exactly seem like the place you’d expect to find a burn. The song is heart-wrenching and subdued. But buried in there is a line where Maines sings about how the decent thing to do would be to “sign and release me.” For context: In August 2019, during divorce proceedings, Maines’s ex-husband requested he be given access to all of the Chicks’ as yet unreleased music. He alleged the music would be in violation of a confidentiality clause in their prenup. It’s also the reason they say, so far, they’ve been legally unable to talk specifics about Gaslighter in interviews.