The Julie Ruin - Run Fast
In a year of musical comebacks, a new record from Kathleen Hanna might not attract quite the same headlines - especially as she's never really been that far away. Although it's nine years since Le Tigre's This Island, and health issues have kept her from making music, she's remained a visible presence through her campaigning work and participation in a mini-industry of Riot Grrrl retrospectives, books and video projects, culminating in the release this year of The Punk Singer, a documentary about her life and work.
The Julie Ruin sees her re-united with Bikini Kill bassist Kathi Wilcox, and from the opening 'Oh Come On' with its late-period BK riff, there is a sense that Run Fast is familiar territory for Hanna. There may be a clue in the title track ("In the end we made the tiny islands where we didn't have to be afraid") that lays out a stall, the rest of the running order straddling a line of punchy garage rock and the New York electro-punk that Le Tigre, to a greater or lesser extent, had a significant hand in popularising - even if the likes of CSS seemed to reap the brief rewards. As a return to the game then, it might seem a little safe, but long-term Hanna aficionados will simply be glad to have her back - and delivering an album that's consistently entertaining. Whether it's the playground boogie of 'Cookie Road' or the melancholy 'Lookout', Run Fast doesn't have you reaching for the skip button, which, as the passing years attest, remains a solid achievement.