Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Le Tigre

  • Le Tigre [Mr. Lady, 1999] A
  • From the Desk of Mr. Lady [Mr. Lady EP, 2001] B+
  • Feminist Sweepstakes [Mr. Lady, 2001] A-
  • This Island [Strummer/Universal, 2004] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Le Tigre [Mr. Lady, 1999]
In which Kathleen Hanna does the unprecedented--if not, apparently, impossible--and reinvents punk again. The first time seems a snap in retrospect, a straightforward seizure of formal strategy and emotional stance for grrrl rage and female discovery-between Hanna's instinct for the ditty and her big pipes, Bikini Kill was an instant sure shot. But she got too old for that, and maybe a little too fulfilled as well. So having passed through her woebegone Julie Ruin project, she gets together with two arty girlfriends and makes deceptively simple music about her arty life. Topics include aesthetic theory, millenarian hippies, John Cassavetes, the pleasures of the Metro Card, who put the ram in the rama-lama-ding-dong, and "Hot Topic" ("Nina Simone!" "Ann Peebles!" "The Slits!" "James Baldwin!" "Mia X!" "Billy Tipton!" "Shirley Muldowney!"). Dynamic synthbeats. Spirited choruses. Even some trick guitar. A

From the Desk of Mr. Lady [Mr. Lady EP, 2001]
After a 34-minute art project that ended up a great album, a 17-minute EP ends up an art project. "Get Off the Internet" was overdue and "They want us to make a symphony out of the sound of women swallowing their own tongues" does us the honor of taking its title literally. But don't be so sure either will hold up like "Gone b4 yr home." Male chauvinist boyfriends are eternal. B+

Feminist Sweepstakes [Mr. Lady, 2001]
Here's one new rock record whose optimistic abandon is specifically conceived as a response to deprivation and attack. Or so I theorize--could just be that they got more jam than Sum 41 or the Strokes. They're not at their best when they catalog grievances (e.g. "F.Y.R.," for "fifty years of ridicule"). Who is? But over and above their jam, they're committed to naming names and utterly unwilling to give up on lives they're still learning to enjoy. It's not just "the ladies and the fags" who need that example anymore. Never was. A-

This Island [Strummer/Universal, 2004]
Taking leftism pop--that one's tough to pull off ("Viz," "I'm So Excited"). **