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The Julie Ruin - Hit Reset (Album Review)

Thursday, 14 July 2016 Written by Laura Johnson

Three years on from the release of ‘Run Fast’, ‘Hit Reset’ finds the Julie Ruin deploying the same relentless energy they started out with, just like a child picked up mid tantrum with legs still flailing. Kathleen Hanna, who first used the band’s name back in the late ‘90s before forming Le Tigre, has still got the pipes and an acid tongue, while Kathi Wilcox, Kenny Mellman, Carmine Covelli and Sara Landeau paint a dance-worthy, synth-filled backdrop throughout.

In true Hanna style, her lyrics traverse a number of issues throughout the record, bouncing from from an NPR programme about PTSD on the title track to I Decide and its repetitive, mantra-style chorus, where she references the Cathy cartoons and tackles negative female stereotypes. On Rather Not, things take a more melodic turn and we’re treated to the closest thing to a break-up song we’re ever likely to get from the Julie Ruin. “I wish I’d never met you,” Hanna sings. “I want you just to go and if you really love me, I guess I’d rather not know.”

Mr So and So is Hanna offering a middle finger to tokenism and, with its no holds barred spoken word introduction, it shows that 26 years on from her Bikini Kill beginnings the fire in her belly still burns. It’s just a pity that after all that time she still has to address bullshit sexism and gender inequality. “I love girl bands, how they take command, it’s a turn on you don’t need to know,”she sings from the perspective of her subject. “You’ll be playing midday on the dumpster stage and on the flyers we’ll make sure to misspell your name.”

But it’s I’m Done that is the record’s true show stopper. Hanna gives everything to her vocals, belting out the title as she pushes back against poison pen opinions, while the album’s closer, Calverton, is a welcome wild card. It represents a u-turn away from the rest of the record’s stylistic choices as, with not an overdub or drum machine in sight, Hanna sings a heartfelt thank you to her mother for supporting her throughout her life and during her ongoing battle with Lyme disease. Backed only by piano and an acoustic guitar, Hanna sings: “Without you I might be numb. Hiding in my apartment from everyone. Without you I'd take the fifth. Or be on my deathbed still full of wishes. But you made me think that I could fly.”

The Julie Ruin are one of a kind, and ‘Hit Reset’ proves it. They are able to tackle any issue, global or personal, with a fresh perspective, resulting in a necessary and candid record that could also soundtrack the most kickass of parties.

The Julie Ruin Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Fri December 02 2016 - LONDON KOKO
Sun December 04 2016 - MANCHESTER Gorilla
Mon December 05 2016 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Tue December 06 2016 - GLASGOW Art School

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