This eleventh effort from the indie-rock legends is about as straight-up and purified an experience as any Sleater-Kinney observer-slash-enthusiast could ever hope to have in 2023. With seemingly none of that badass-ery from their classic late-’90s output diluted by the passage of time, ‘Little Rope’ sloshes up nothing less than a condensed, rocket-punch collection of ten three-minute bangers. Opener ‘Hell’ roars, crashes and burns with intoxicating darkness. ‘Hunt You Down’ filters its catchy hooks through a twitching, disco beat, while ‘Dress Yourself’ smoulders in the haze of brooding synthesisers and fuzzy, glam-rock soloing. While packed with these big choruses, defiant lyricism, bursting vocals and garage riffs aplenty, underlying all these anthemic qualities is a moment of overwhelming sadness and grief. In the autumn of 2022, Carrie Brownstein’s mother and stepfather were both killed in a car accident while holidaying in Italy. Retreating to their fretboard as a means of dealing with the loss, soon after, Carrie was gathering around guitars and amplifiers with Corin Tucker to compose the first sketches of what would become ‘Little Rope’. No wonder then that the record burns with such molten passion, and rings out with such candid, heartache-filled lines as “Drive around, drive the pain out / Warped from grief, can’t go home”. Painfully, and nobly, it howls at the full moon rising up above.