Punk rock’s not dead – it’s mutating. Many talented artists are seeking solace from the narrow restrictions of mainstream music in experimentation.
This sonic revolution is a rage against the establishment. In “Feminist Sweepstakes,” Le Tigre makes unique waves out of its frustration with current standards.
The group, formed by former Bikini Kill front-woman Kathleen Hanna, also includes zine founder Johanna Fateman and international videomaker Sadie Benning. J.D Sawson, Le Tigre’s newest addition, aids in Benning’s visual contributions, which play a major role in its public persona. “Feminist Sweepstakes” follows the lead of the band’s two previous EPs. By melding punk rock sensibility with electronic dance beats, Hanna and crew are able to connect their political and feminist agendas without sacrificing a house-party vibe.
In the tradition of the Riot Grrrl movement of the early 1990s (in which each member played an influential role), the message behind the lyrics on “Sweepstakes” focuses on promoting strong, independent women. Issues ranging from abortion to inequality in the workplace and self-reliance are addressed on one or more of the disc’s 12 tracks.
“Well I guess you’re the judge in this forever beauty pageant I’m always in,” Hanna laments halfway through “On Guard,” as she rails against society’s objectification of women. The song encourages its listeners to face dissenters head on. “You can look me up and down/ I won’t stop, no/I won’t fall apart.”
Feminism, though certainly a central topic, is not the only issue tackled on this album. “F.Y.R” for example, attacks the hypocrisy of a government that attempts to appease an increasingly dissatisfied public by allowing frustrated movements minor victories without granting any serious long term solutions: “Toss us a few AIDS drugs as national healthcare bites the dust. Can we end title nine for another hate crime?” Strong accusations are tied together by the song’s ultimate message as the chorus rages, “Let’s name this phenomenon/ It’s too dumb to bring us down.”
Other tracks such as “LT Tour Theme,” “Tres Bien,” and “Keep on Livin’,” are more celebratory in nature, leaving one to assume that even though there’s still much to be done in creating a more open-minded society, we’ve still come a long way.
Each song is characterized by the repetition of words, heavy alliteration and rally cries accompanied by a singular voice. There’s also a frenetic energy permeating this album that contributes to its infectious quality.
This innovative piece of work deserves at least one listen or two, for not only does it impart some wisdom on the art of activism, but it’s also laden with a heavy groove. So swallow your conventional pride and hit the dance floor. The roller-skate jams are waiting for you to kick it.