Hitting the reset button on your life is an appealing concept. How many times have you wanted to wipe out all the rubbish and start anew – refreshed, renewed and with a super-slick new operating system? Sadly, things aren’t that easy – life is not an iPhone.
Despite the various differences between human existence and modern technology, punk icon Kathleen Hanna – formerly of riot grrrl trailblazers Bikini Kill and cult electro-nistas Le Tigre – is doing her darndest to spin her life around. She’s starting with taking to task those who’ve wronged her. The secret, she says, is honesty.
Talking about her second album with The Julie Ruin, she commented: “I’ve written about my personal bouts with illness, abuse, sexism and how hard it is for me to walk away from people even when they’re toxic Tasmanian devils before, but not in this way.”
The result is a record that’s as fun as it is furious, and as confrontational as it is cool. Musically it comes over like a lo-fi take on the 1960s girl group sound, as trashy as a John Waters movie, like The Cramps smothered in candyfloss. But the real meat is in Hanna’s lyrics, which are more personal than ever before.
Bold, brave opener ‘Hit Reset’ deals with childhood abuse: “Said my prayers two inches from death / Invisible gun pointed at my head.” While ‘Mr So And So’ is a hilarious but hard-hitting lambasting of self-obsessed, mansplaining indie snobs who hide behind a smokescreen of supposed feminism: “I just love girl bands how they take command / It’s a turn-on you don’t need to know.” ‘Hello Trust No One’ tackles toxic friendships: “It took a lot of time to make up my mind, that’s for sure / But letting you in my life was immature.” The moody ‘I Decide’ is perhaps the most significant, with Hanna kicking against the pr**ks who try to define her experience on their own terms.
Music doesn’t always need to have a message, but when it does it’s all the more important.
- Record label: Hardly Art
- Release date: 08 Jul, 2016