Words About Music
The Julie Ruin “Run Fast”
If you’re looking for some raw riot grrrl hardcore lo-fi angry feminist punk from Kathleen Hanna, then you should probably just turn back now, because apart from a couple songs, “Run Fast” sounds nothing at all like Hanna’s Bikini Kill years. For those that don’t know, Kathleen Hanna was a journalist in the early nineties before forming Bikini Kill, one of the first bands in the riot grrrl scene, who combined hardcore punk with feminist ideology as well as scathing political lyricism. Hanna was one of the first and best women to be a part of this scene, and her influence is still spreading today. Bikini Kill broke up in the mid-90s and she recorded a solo album under the alias “Julie Ruin” in 1997. She then formed the group Le Tigre, but Hanna stopped recording music after Le Tigre’s 2004 album “This Island” to focus on her marriage to Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock and recovering from an illness that plagued her for six years. In 2010 she decided to reprise her Julie Ruin act and call it The Julie Ruin, making it a full-on band. This year they released their debut album “Run Fast,” and it’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard Kathleen Hanna create.
Sure, there are tracks on here that sound sort of like they could be Bikini Kill or Le Tigre songs. Tracks like “Oh Come On,” “Ha Ha Ha,” and “Girls Like Us” are energetic, fun, quirky, and are definitely reminiscent of Kathleen’s glory days, but a lot of these songs are synth-driven tracks with either obnoxious choruses or don’t really make much sense at all. I still don’t see the point of a song like “Party City” or “South Coast Plaza.”
“Run Fast” isn’t entirely disappointing, though. Even some of the band’s weirder experiments end up paying off, although they don’t really stick in my head like “Oh Come On” or “Girls Like Us” or “Cookie Road” though. And I’m sure Kathleen’s voice would be a major turnoff to anyone who isn’t familiar with her music, although I love it. It’s just difficult to get used to the softer side of Kathleen Hanna. The synths just sound weird. Maybe it’s just the way the album is mixed, but something about some of these tracks makes them unmemorable and even a tad unlistenable.
I highly doubt “Run Fast” is going to destroy Kathleen Hanna’s legacy. She’s such an important figure in the most recent wave of feminism that one sour album won’t hurt, especially when there’s some total gems on there. It’s great that she’s covered from whatever disease she had and that she’s still making music, but a lot of the songs on “Run Fast” don’t totally gel with me. And that’s all it is.
SCORE – 6.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – Oh Come On, Ha Ha Ha, Cookie Road, Girls Like Us, Stop Stop