I love a record that allows you to step immediately into another world. With just one note, you feel yourself slipping into an alternate dimension that you will thoroughly enjoy, at least for some amount of time. Pure magic. Sleater-Kinney’s Little Rope (out on January 19th 2024 via Loma Vista) is one of those records, and to my ears, it feels like the perfect dose of urgency and vulnerability. It feels like Sleater-Kinney is asking the hard questions we all juggle as we navigate our own sometimes mundane, sometimes chaotic, lives. It feels like really hard truths and questions, alike, sung out with a full set of lungs. It feels simultaneously faded, gritty, and vibrant. With this record, Sleater-Kinney is heavy on the nostalgic, raw, and rock-leaning elements. There are moments in Little Rope that move like fire doused with gasoline. The first track, "Hell", initially creeps in and calls for the listeners' complete attention. The vulnerable and soft focus of the vocal in the verses leaves you hanging on every word. When the chorus screams, “You ask WHY like there’s no tomorrow,” anyone who claims to have a heart beating in their chest should feel that in their gut.
The haunting synths and subtle guitar layers found throughout the album create depth and set a tone that carries throughout the record. In the raw moments, the record brings me back to the front row of a Patti Smith show. “The people have the power,” she screams. She threw her fists in the air and I could feel tears run down my face. A powerful moment. Some of this record feels much like that. There are moments of pure forward motion that feels like joy - “Crusader” is one of these. Not only does the record have powerful moments, it has catchy moments that would rival any good pop song. Many songs are complete with lead guitar earworms that will likely stick around your head for a while - “Untidy Creature,” “Hell,” and “Small Finds,” are some of those tracks. Sometimes the record makes you feel like you have the most beautifully saturated fuzz guitars filling up every cubic inch of volume in your brain. Other times, you might feel slapped in the jaw and out of a haze by chorused riffs so pretty and jangly they’d sit nicely in your favorite Cure record. Sleater-Kinney’s Little Rope is a beautifully raw, vulnerable piece of art that leaves me wondering what route they’ll choose to explore next.
Rating - 4.5/5