Turning the party into rebellion

Post-major label, Le Tigre’s new album still rocks, just not as harshly

Keri Carlson

In the riot grrrl band Bikini Kill, lead singer Kathleen

Hanna cried “Revolution girl style now” with a shrill scream backed with chunky guitars. Hanna used the heavy, distorted sounds of punk to challenge the male-dominated rock world.

After Bikini Kill, Hanna discovered a new way to launch the revolution. By dancing!

Le Tigre’s electro-pop mixed with up-beat punk causes dance floors to shake. Even with all the hip wiggling, their self-titled 1999 album never lost sight of its politics. You could dance and discuss maverick filmmaker John Cassavetes at the same time. Le Tigre made politics more fun and dancing more radical.

Now with their third album “This Island,” Le Tigre shocked their fans by signing to a major label, Universal Records. The major difference is the sound – the group took the recordings out of the bedroom and into a studio.

The production on “This Island” is slicker and cleaner than previous albums. Older fans need not worry; the cleaning did not sanitize Le Tigre’s fury.

The first two songs on “This Island” are some of the group’s loudest. “Seconds” recalls Hanna’s frantic screaming from the song “The Empty” (from “Le Tigre”) that sounds as though she sucked on helium before releasing her frustration. “Seconds” finds Hanna at her angriest as she yells repeatedly, “You make me sick,” apparently at the Bush administration.

“This Island” however, chiefly highlights Hanna’s voice when it’s cool and calm. “Tell You Now,” the album’s standout track, features Hanna’s soft wispy vocals as they grow into a growl.

While “This Island” is musically on par with the group’s other two records, the politics are not as apparent. On the first album, you couldn’t miss Hanna declaring Mayor Giuliani “a fucking jerk.” This time though, the most prominent lyrics on the album are “Hear it on the radio.”

Perhaps Le Tigre’s political views are becoming more complex and they cannot express them through simple insults. But you can’t help wondering if it has anything to do with the new label.