I'LL FOREVER PICTURE Kathleen Hanna in Jackie O. sunglasses, guitar slung low, middle finger aimed at the world. Sure, she may have exchanged the punk pulpit of Bikini Kill for the occasional politico spoken-word bit or the electronic flirtations of her solo project, Julie Ruin. But Hanna still epitomizes rad femme regardless, and her new band, Le Tigre, proves that even the most glamorous dancing shoes can be just as good as Doc Martens for kicking ass. Hanna's scream still punches a hole through your skull, her lyrics filling that gaping cavity with incendiary agitpop. But now a drum machine pumps the party, allowing Hanna's feminism and surf guitar to infiltrate the formerly foreign terrain of the dance floor.
Tautening her belt a notch toward new wavish hysterics, Hanna transforms the lyrics of Le Tigre's opening track, "Deceptacon" ("Wanna see me disco?/Let me hear you depoliticize my rhyme"), from defensive posturing into a confident taunt. And she has the cool jerking rhythm and groovy Farfisa to back her up--a welcome actualization of Julie Ruin's bold but ill-fated search for a Northwest indie passage to a New York dance-pop future. Anyone who still doubts that Hanna has firmly linked both herself and her art with the East Coast is referred to "My My Metrocard," which takes the obligatory swipe at Rudy Giuliani (casually dismissed as "a fucking jerk") atop a fab mod-pop tambourine accompaniment before transferring at the Christopher Street station.
Focusing on Hanna is no slight to her new bandmates, indie filmmaker Sadie Benning and zine-writer Johanna Fateman (who probably deserves a nod for the zine-style layout and content of Le Tigre's liner notes). The three share writing and playing credits equally, and such sisterly egalitarianism sparks the refrain of "Hot Topic" ("Don't stop/We won't stop"), which leaves a few blank lines at the end of its roll call of riot grrrl idols (Yoko Ono, Gertrude Stein, Joan Jett, even subaltern poststructural academic Gayatri Spivak) for Le Tigre--and ourselves--to sign on.
But all righteous ideological perks aside, you really ought to hear these women disco. Or mod-hop. Or sample dogs barking. Too lo-fi for its pop to sound precious, with well-placed swear words and angst for atmosphere, Le Tigre seems less a Xeroxed manifesto than an invitation to a riot-grrrl slumber party where everyone would rather dance than sleep.
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