Le Tigre – Le Tigre (1999)
Home to the best know Le Tigre songs, the trio’s self-titled debut delves straight into an electrified dance hall arena, complete with childhood chants and make believe situations that threaten a unicorn around every corner. It’s full of fun hooks, quips and dips that none of the band– at this time consisting of Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman and Sadie Benning – had explored so thoroughly before. For its time, it’s pretty groundbreaking.
As the most famous face in the crowd, it’s hardly surprising Le Tigre are so often critically compared to Hanna’s previous band Bikini Kill. Loyalists will argue Le Tigre has nothing to do with any of Bikini Kill’s material; that the two acts target a very different demographic, set out to relay a very different message, and do so in a very different style. All of these comments are reasonable, but at the same time one honk on Hanna’s eardrum shattering yelp and you’re taken straight back to “Reject All American”, with or without a political purpose. It doesn’t matter what she’s singing about – if we’re honest with ourselves half the time you have to read the inlay to figure that out anyway. What matters is the tone of her voice, and that angry protester in Hanna rears its head on this album’s most prominent tracks: “Deceptacon”, “Hot Topic”, “The The Empty” and “Let’s Run”.
While those tracks may be the choice selection for DJs up and down the country, that’s not to say they outdo everything around them. “What’s Your Take on Cassavetes?” and “My My Metrocard” require Wikipedia to decipher properly but with or without the aid they’re an enjoyable ode to feminist ambiguity, the American transport system and bedroom recording technicalities. “Dude Yr So Crazy!”, “Sideshow at Free University” and “Friendship Station” take the sense out of sensibility and “Eau D’Bedroom Dancing” proves Hanna can sing as well as she can bark. At points on this album there is actual, genuine barking.
There is a problem with this album. It’s a problem peculiar to my edition. The last four songs are live bonuses, and all they do is petrify me. The sound quality is terrible. Without a visual it’s like three Riot Grrrls got lost, found their way into the BBC recording studios and were told to record something upbeat. It loses everything about the band that made them great, and though I missed out on the Benning line up, you can still take my word for it: live, they were great. Just not this one time someone decided to record them.
- Tiffany Daniels