Ladyman nonballads

It’s all wink-wink, nudge-nudge, boys’ club-style at the top of the pops these days, what with Eminem’s violent verses and Limp Bizkit’s he-man machismo earning Grammy nods and money wads faster than their defenders can feebly say “artistic freedom.” Musical misogyny certainly isn’t new, but it’s no less disturbing that recently there’s been an increasingly widespread complacency with the brand of Neanderthal behavior championed by Slim Shady et al. So while cultural mythmakers and the academic elite insist we’re in a “post-feminist” era, each time we turn on the radio or MTV we’re assured otherwise.

All of which makes Le Tigre’s From the Desk of Mr. Lady even more timely and crucial. Go-going and pogoing past the homophobic stereotype that feminism is just a passé protest for humorless, razorless lesbians, this seven-song EP is exhilarating electro-disco that’s fun(ny) and fundamental. Over mercilessly addictive bump ’n’ jump beats, the trio — Kathleen Hanna (ex-Bikini Kill), Johanna Fateman and new member JD Samson — hilariously mocks clueless misogynists and disses well-intentioned assholes who’d rather be “cool” than feminist (as if it’s either/or). As a result, Le Tigre transforms punk’s vague, cliched rebellion into a socio-specific indictment of our culture’s anti-woman hostilities.

Contrary to what detractors have unfairly said of Hanna’s work in Bikini Kill, Le Tigre never lets politics bog down the music (again, as if they’re mutually exclusive). Instead, like the band’s thrilling 1999 debut, From the Desk of Mr. Lady is a feminist news flash for the dance floor that’s effective precisely because it so brilliantly blends politics and pleasure. And considering the cultural climate of late, it’s disheartening that so few others are doing the same. While music’s biggest men owe their stardom to their sexism, Le Tigre provides hope that our society won’t always consider feminism the dirtiest “f” word.

E-mail Jimmy Draper at [email protected].

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