Hell Hath No Fury Like The Fiery Tongue of a Front Woman
Kathleen Hanna can’t be stopped. The former front woman of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre has been a forerunning member of forward thinking feminism and scathing riot grrrl poster child despite disease, an abortion and decades spent within an ever changing musical landscape. After producing a lo-fi solo effort under the moniker ‘Julie Ruin’ in her apartment at the close of the 90s while taking a break from Bikini Kill, Hanna took an even longer respite before returning to rebuild ‘The Julie Ruin’ in the late 2000s, outfitting it with former Bikini Kill band mate Kathi Wilcox, Kiki and Herb’s Kenny Mellman, Carmine Covelli and Sara Landeau. Hit Reset is The Julie Ruin’s sophomore album released under Hardly Art and serving as the follow up to debut Run Fast (not counting the 1998 solo record).
Mixed by Eli Crews (who also contributed to Run Fast), Hit Reset has been billed as Hanna’s most personal effort, eschewing the radical barbs of feminist wit in lieu of her own struggles. However this is not entirely the case, as one can’t imagine Hanna ever letting everybody else completely off the hook. Tracks like “Planet You” and “Mr. So and So” are scalding jabs at culture obsessed with itself (“start a kickstarter for your heart”) and ill-disguised patriarchal phonies who feign interest in female fronted bands for all the wrong reasons (“I’ll show your autograph to my women’s studies class without hearing what the teacher has to say”) in equal parts fury and hilarity.
Of “Mr. So and So,” Hanna says, “I’ve come in contact with this special ‘doing feminism in a really un-feminist way’ person a ton over my career and it felt good to crack jokes about it. I think my favorite moment of recording was the day I walked into Figure 8 Studio and found a woman who was working on the record laughing her ass off on the couch while Eli was playing her the track for the first time. It made me so happy to hear her laughing about something that can be so painful.”
Musically, Hit Reset runs the gamut – dancier and synth laden in spots while pervasive percussion and hammering punk style hits hard in others, ending with a closer tinkling with keys and employing a laser-like knack for a killer melody staggered throughout. Jaunty power-pop beats hide dark subject matter that depicts serious struggle, while songs like “I’m Done” and “I Decide,” with all their menace and cutthroat criticisms, still maintain moments of playful mocking that is impossible not to find endearing. Don’t be surprised as a listener if you laugh during Hit Reset in one instance and imagine punching someone’s face in the next.