From The Desk Of Mr. Lady
By: Eric G.
I should have known the party wouldn't last long- the temptation to sacrifice good songs for political abrasiveness must be overwhelming for Kathleen Hanna. I guess you can't teach an old riot grrrl new tricks. But Le Tigre's debut last year was nothing short of astounding even though it was, evidently, a fluke. With the spirit of Poly Styrene fuelling her, Kathleen Hanna proved she could really sing. The songs were fun blasts of retro-electronic punk with catchy melodies and hilarious lyrics about everything from John Cassavettes to riding the subway. This EP drags everybody back down to reality with a grinding halt, though, proving that Hanna and her co-conspirators are only human after all.
From The Desk of Mr. Lady has seven separate tracks, but I'd be hard-pressed to call any of them "songs." There are few if any discernible melodies much less any sign of the bouncy interplay from the self-titled album. The lyrics are now devoid of all humor and self-deprecating wit too. Politics in music is always a chore and a bore, but if couched in cleverness can be at least engaging on some level (somebody please tell Fugazi that for me). That level is nowhere to be found on this EP, however.
"Get Off The Internet" kicks off the downward spiral with a non-chorus of "Get off the internet/I'll meet you in the street/get off the internet/destroy the right wing." The oversimplified beats and repetitive samples sound like pale imitations of their energetic and inventive counterparts on the full length. Hanna's "baby-girl' voice has a short shelf-life. When she sings without affectation, though, she has a clean, pure voice that might make lines like "Bang bang daddy I want you dead/bring me Giuliani's head" not feel like swallowing a horse-pill without water. It's not that the sentiment is shocking or offensive – just the opposite – it's just so trite and predictable. How inventive is it really for a bunch of reactionary lesbians to sing about blaming Giuliani for police brutality in New York City? Come on.
"Yr Critique" is a tuneless waste of time. An ape-simple guitar line repeats over Casio-drumbeats while Hanna shrieks distorted vocals that trade off with one of her bandmates singing "so, go-go, go-go, go-go good luck!" It sounds even less catchy than it looks. "Gone B4 Yr Home" uses elevator muzak as a kitschy pose, which is, of course, the point, but it still doesn't make the song any more enjoyable to listen to. The smirking irony of "Mediocrity Rules" would probably go over better if the song weren't so, well, mediocre. This EP will no doubt ride the coattails of last year's album's success, but you can't fool all of the hipsters all of the time. Maybe the band is hoping to stymie some of the hype by deliberately putting out half-assed material. Wouldn't that teach Spin for trying to interview them?