by Alice Zakusilo (@GhostyShibe)

Little Rope, Sleater-Kinney’s eleventh studio album, is bursting with energy, with Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker using the record to deal with loss and grief and manage tragedy within their lives. For nearly thirty years, they have been creating grunge/punk rock music, known for their cathartic aggression and sharp witty lyrics. Little Rope as an album has attitude and classic riot grrl stylings, never shying away from tackling societal issues, they face them head-on with the defiant attitude they’ve always been known for. The album is dynamic, aggressive, and most of all violently cathartic, a sweeping inferno of energy, ready to fight through whatever challenges may arise.

This product of mourning, Little Rope sprang into being after Brownstein’s parents unfortunately passed away in a tragic car accident while on holiday in Italy as she struggled with grief, turning to music as solace. The record offers resilience, comfort, and the ability to overcome trauma and sorrow as Sleater-Kinney calls for people to pick themselves up, have the strength not to wallow in pain and sadness and the ability to face grief. Grief may be the catalyst to this album, but the refusal to succumb to it, the determination to take life by the horns, the resilience to deal with it all, and the bewilderment such sudden loss can cause are all parts of this album. Little Rope takes the pain and with it creates power.

The album kicks off with “Hell,” a meticulously crafted slow-burning song that sets the tone for the fiery journey ahead. It begins with a soft and gentle approach, akin to a ballad. The opening is haunting, sending shivers down the spine, hypnotizing and raw, a gentle start, inviting the listener to let their guard down only to erupt into a blaze of energy. They masterfully alternate between sweet soothing vocals and loud piercing screams that demand attention as distortion starts to build up consistently, the guitars becoming more and more intense together with the vocals. This aggressive, chaotic tune provides a thrilling introduction, perfectly showcasing the intensity and dynamism of the album.

Little Rope uses clever lyricism to tell a story with profoundly relatable lyrics, striking a chord as they detail the time it takes to heal from sorrow. “Hunt You Down” focuses on bringing oneself up from grief and pain, the song opening with “I’ve been down so long, I pay rent to the floor,” illustrating the process of readying oneself for the days to come. The track is growling with anticipation, the fury and pain of someone who has been kicked around for far too long, someone who has been controlled by their fears and insecurities, noting that “the things you fear the most will hunt you down”. It pairs well with “Dress Yourself,” a song that also focuses on getting ready to face the world, despite pain. They sing “get up, girl, and dress yourself / In clothes you love for a world you hate,” a call to continue despite the difficulties, healing begining with the mundane small tasks, like getting dressed in the morning. No matter how long someone has been down, they can always come back and heal, it is a day-by-day process.

Sleater-Kinney presents Little Rope as so much more than an album. It is a visceral, raw journey through the smoldering embers of dejection, showcasing the importance of resilience and defiance even at the end of your rope. Sleater-Kinney can transform a personal tragedy into cathartic energy and unyielding strength, reminding the listener that even in one’s darkest moments there exists a light that can ignite a blazing path forward, a true testament to the enduring human spirit. The band invite all to not wallow in pain but to pick themselves up, and burn brightly, like a match about to strike.

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