Sleater-Kinney: Little Rope – An angsty, downbeat collection that does not rank among their best

A decent offering informed by tragedy after Carrie Brownstein’s mother and stepfather died in a car crash in 2022

Little Rope
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Artist: Sleater-Kinney
Genre: Rock
Label: Loma Vista

Three decades after forming in Olympia, Washington, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker mark their 30th year with their 11th studio album. The recording of Little Rope, Sleater-Kinney’s second album without their drummer Janet Weiss, was tainted by tragedy after Brownstein’s mother and stepfather died in a car crash in 2022.

Although the album was already written by that point, it’s not hard to imagine an extra level of anguish coating these angsty, downbeat songs under producer John Congleton’s watch. It seems like the duo are in a reflective state of mind; here are songs that defiantly challenge relationships, careening wildly between recklessness and dejection, as heard on the rollicking, scuzzy rock’n’roll of Needlessly Wild or the buzzy plod of Untidy Creature (“You built a cage, but your measurement’s wrong/ I’ll find a way, I’ll pick your lock”), while Crusader’s chorus takes an unexpected swing towards indie pop.

Elsewhere, certain ear-catching lyrics set the tone, whether it’s Hunt You Down’s “I’ve been down so long, I’m paying rent to the floor” or “Warped from grief, can’t go home/ I don’t feel right, that’s all I know”, on Don’t Feel Right. Amid the despondency are some enjoyably squally rock moments, as on Six Mistakes and the atonal, grainy Small Finds. This is a decent offering from a fine band, albeit with too many forgettable moments in the mix for this album to rank among their best.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times