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Le Tigre
This Island
Universal Records
www.letigreworld.com


Two words: Ric Ocasek. It's amazing what names get thrown about in an attempt to gain our attention. I freely admit that was enough to get me to put this in my pile during one of the Hybrid CD Distribution Pow-Wows. Unaware I was of the mess that awaited me.

You might not think that an anti-war-liberal-lesbian-rally-party-gone-amok would have much to do with the failed presidential candidacy of one (former) Senator Robert (Bob) Dole, but it does. Like Mr. Dole, this CD tries to be too many things to too many people, who admittedly, are mostly on the same side of the fence, but so little attention is paid to any of them that the album fails to deliver anything of real substance to any of the constituency.

"Seconds" was musically my favorite of the bunch; a full-speed-ahead riot grrrl power-punk festival of screeching vocals and grinding guitars, but even full credit can't be given here since it "contains elements from "Marathon" written and performed by Erase Errata." It is also amusing to note that it was written prior to the most recent presidential election. It is a tirade against George W. Bush that disputes the legitimacy of his presidency, and rails against his policies. Now that GWB has been elected without the Supreme Court's assistance, the technical legitimacy of his presidency is a moot argument (philosophically, his legitimacy could be argued ad nauseum when one considers the line in the sand that appears to have been drawn so near to the middle, that separates both sides) such that the song's title takes on an alternate, unintentional meaning as el Presidente helps himself to another serving at the political buffet line. Oops.

"New Kicks", the other political rally is a collection of samples recorded at an anti-war protest that tries to create the perception that the anti-war movement was a pervasive and politically overwhelming power prior to the war in Iraq, and that Le Tigre were somehow an instrumental component of it. Anyone who watches, reads or downloads the news has by now figured out that the anti-war movement, regardless of its own legitimacy, hasn't even gained the status of historical footnote due to its disorganization and self-marginalization. These things aside, musically it's totally out of place in an otherwise poppy, punky album. It probably would fit better in the revisionist paradigms of Howard Zinn, but if you're going to get political, you won't be taken seriously unless you really get serious about your politics. That's circular, isn't it? Before they divide too much of their energy, they might want to concentrate more on making music. As further evidence, The People offer exhibit C:

The only thing that disrupts and drains the album's pace more than the aforementioned is This Island's George Romero version of the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited." This cover is so dull and lifeless that I can't help but wonder why said Pointer Sisters didn't withdraw their support upon hearing it. One might surmise that just a single listen was enough to put them into a deep sleep from which they may never waken. Or, turned them into the living dead.

The rest of the tracks seem, and I say seem because I have yet to completely decipher the lyrics, to be a harried, semi-drunken celebration of the lesbian-rock-n-roller lifestyle. Much is spoken in codes I cannot ken. Clearly, this was not meant for me (or my gay cousin who, along with a sizable chunk of the gay community, inexplicably share a greater enmity for lesbians than they do for Pat Robertson), but I have at least gleaned enough to sense that the party portrayed is perhaps a desperate attempt for the Tigers to convince themselves that they haven't really turned into bitter old dykes. I mean, the younger lesbians don't really congratulate themselves just for being lesbians, do they? I don't go out of my way to tell people that I'm Irish on St. Patrick's Day, because who the fuck cares? (Well, except to provide justification for NOT needing to wear green.) If anything, Le Tigre is preaching to the choir and fervently so, in the way that the most fervent of evangelical zealots are assuredly the least secure in their faith.

So what about Ric Ocasek? Well, he helped to produce one of the songs ("Tell You Now"). And as of this writing, I can't even remember what that one sounds like. So much for name dropping…

-JD

Track Listing:

1. On the Verge
2. Seconds
3. Don't Drink Poison
4. After Dark
5. Nanny Nanny Boo Boo
6. TKO
7. Tell You Now
8. New Kicks
9. Viz
10. This Island
11. I'm So Excited
12. Sixteen
13. Punker Plus


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