ALBUM REVIEW: Sleater-Kinney – Little Rope | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Loma Vista

Released: 19.01.24

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: Sleater-Kinney by Chris Hornbecker

It’s pushing thirty years since the first Sleater-Kinney album (yes, we’re all really old now, deal with it), and yet they still feel like a forward-thinking force. So much so, in fact, that they were prepared to pay a brutal price in the name of progress in 2019 when their robotic curveball of a record The Center Won’t Hold (and some other stuff that we don’t have the word count to explore) cost them Janet Weiss, who was always SO much more to Sleater-Kinney than just ‘the drummer’. And the backlash against how all that played out left a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of S-K fans, but well, I guess as founding members of the band, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker made an artistic call and lived with the heavy consequences.

What nobody quite expected, though, was follow-up Path of Wellness being (whisper it), quite forgettable. But hey, there was a pandemic on, and who among us was making great decisions back then? The good news is that Little Rope finds the band pushing things forward once more, meaning it feels like the true successor to The Center Won’t Hold. Lead single and opening song Hell set a deliciously brooding tone when it emerged, which turns out have foreshadowed the dark heart which underlays most of the album.

After decades of working together, Tucker and Brownstein have honed their vocal interplay to an art, and they employ the former’s signature howl and the sardonic curled lip of the latter so skilfully to create a heady, oppressive mood throughout Little Rope. It’s at its most menacing on Hunt You Down, as they warn us “the thing you fear the most will hunt you down”. The storm clouds may be the most apparent meteorological feature here but there’s still room for a little fun (with a small f), exhibited on Small Finds, with its playful riffs and Tucker’s vocal apparently reprising the character she played on All Hands on the Bad One’s Milkshake an’ Honey’. A fascinating and enriching addition to the Sleater-Kinney canon. 

 

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