Album of the Year. No question. You want another 494 words? Fine.
Once you’ve achieved legendary status with everyone’s favourite 90’s feminist punk act Bikini Kill, it must have been difficult for frontwoman Kathleen Hanna to map out a future career trajectory for herself. But Hanna is no mere mortal. There has always been an internal rage burning in her solar plexus and, thankfully, she chose music as her outlet rather than opening a cupcake shop. The Julie Ruin is her current incarnation and Hit Reset is a pared down, acerbic follow-up to 2013’s Run Fast. If anyone doubted that Hanna would retain her angst beyond her youth, let me tell you it’s still very much in evidence and matched by a malevolent wit.
Two tracks in and it’s clear Hanna hasn’t gone soft on us. The title track offers up a sarcastic “I don’t think you’re sorry at all/ As a concept/ I don’t think you’re sorry at all/ Hit reset.” Ha, take that you pseudo-apologist! This is swiftly followed by the semi-nursery rhyme of ‘I Decide,’ which is a slapdown to anyone and everyone who might dare to dictate life on any terms other than her own. In a world of polished, fabricated musical mediocrity, The Julie Ruin sound like they’ve just been handed some instruments in the school music room and told to improvise. It sounds a shambles at times but Dear God, there is a beauty to their simplicity and clarity of thought.
If you really don’t want to hear a woman vexed on the topic of fandom then best avoid ‘Mr So and So,’ which lines up its target in its crosshairs and then spits venom so acidic you won’t be needing any litmus paper. Recent single ‘I’m Done‘ is just a great rock holler, the kind of guttural roar which was such a strong trademark of Bikini Kill but that we’ve sadly heard all too rarely of late. When Hanna nails it, it stays nailed. Take ‘Hello, Trust No One’, for example, whereby Hanna descends into Frank Black territory as her vocals disintegrate into a primeval wail. I have little notion of what she’s singing about and it’ll never crop up in my local karaoke bar but its intoxicating and disturbing in equal measure.
Only when the final track of the thirteen slinks into view does the joy relent. ‘Calverton’ finds Hanna in a are moment of introspection. “There’s nowhere left to go/ And there’s nothing I can do” she morbidly muses, which is a sober ending to this joy-filled romp. If I am allowed one criticism, it’s that thirteen tracks is too many and shaving a couple of the weaker numbers would have left the most concentrated and glorious soundtrack to our eventual Summer. Nonetheless, every emotion is catered for on Hit Reset and delivered in perfectly formed morsels for your delectation. Kathleen Hanna will always polarize opinion but for me, she has just been a woman capable of writing great pop songs. This time she has exceeded all expectations.
Like I said, Album of the Year. No question.
Hit Reset is released on July 8th on Hardly Art