By: Eric Greenwood
Unfortunately picking up where this year"s half-assed EP, From The Desk Of Mr. Lady, left off, New York City"s favorite lesbian trio, Le Tigre, struggles to capture any of the energy or fun of its outstanding 1999 debut. The formula, however, is identical to its full-length predecessor: deliberately ape-simple song structures, primitive drum machines, distorted vocals, and ranting left wing lyrics. If these are the same ingredients as the good album, then how could this be so boring? Apparently, the band ran out of ideas and forgot how to write songs.
Feminist Sweepstakes sounds exactly like what it is (three non-musicians tinkering aimlessly with vintage equipment and second-rate ideas). On the band"s debut, the lack of musicianship was easily overlooked by way of charm and kitsch and ace melodies, but now Le Tigre slaps you in the face with its overwhelming ineptitude. Without hooks this political yammering is tough to stomach. It"s hardly shocking to be a lesbian in 2001, but Le Tigre runs through all the predictable Democrat talking points as though Tom Daschle were its renegade muse. For a band that strives for gay revolution, it sure is awfully safe in its scope.
In the song "F.Y.R." the initials stand for "fifty years of ridicule." Boo-hoo. Of all the social outcasts deserving some sort of sympathy, privileged white lesbians are at the bottom of the list. Vocalist Kathleen Hanna lets drop such nauseating couplets as: "while you were on vacation/black people didn"t get reparations." Ugh. Hanna"s sloganeering is bitter and sad, and it"s taken over her sense of humor. Apart from the self-deprecating wit of "LT Tour Theme" ("for the ladies and the fags, yeah/we"re the band with the roller-skate jams"), Feminist Sweepstakes exposes Hanna"s hand, and it"s full of shit. She prefers the stump to good songs, and obviously that makes for a poor listening experience.
Le Tigre"s novelty has worn off. Two dead-on-arrival releases in a row are enough evidence for me. There are a few brief glimpses of the Le Tigre that was once so charmingly disarming, though. The stilted post-punk guitar work on "On Guard" is the perfect backdrop for Hanna"s defensive wailing ("I guess feeling good was my first mistake"), and "My Art" showcases her ability to present a genuine girlish innocence (I don"t care you sing such a winner"s song/I won"t respond") before the aggression kicks in ("and if you ever wanna try y[ou]r hand at forcing my suicide/come on, fucker, reach out for the sun"). It"s all in the melodies. Too bad Feminist Sweepstakes barely has any.