The Julie Ruin's second albu, Hit Reset, comes out this week. Photo by Shervin Lainez.
It may sound impossible, but The Julie Ruin’s sophomore record Hit Reset is riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna’s most honest work yet. Considering the legendary degree to which the foundational feminist musician has been open about her experiences with sexual abuse, Lyme disease, and confronting systemic sexism over the nearly 30 years she’s been making music, it seemed she’d shared it all. Hit Reset reveals otherwise. Hanna’s life has been well-documented by her work as frontwoman of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and most recently as the subject of the biographical documentary The Punk Singer, and yet this bold new record manages to uncover a ripe patch of unchartered territory.
The band (Hanna, Kathi Wilcox, Sara Landeau, Kenny Mellman and Carmine Covelli) began working on Hit Reset back in 2014, shortly after releasing its debut EP Run Fast. They reunited with Eli Crews, who mixed Run Fast, together landing on a multifaceted sound that’s simultaneously dancey and haunting. One of the most powerful songs on the record, “Calverton,” is an ode to Hanna’s relationship with her mother, in reference to growing up being sexually abused by her father: “Without you I might be numb, hiding in my apartment from everyone/ Without you I’d take the fifth, or be on my death bed still full of wishes.” Hanna isn’t afraid to go dark on Hit Reset, and is equally unafraid to pair heavier material with lighter sounds. These are intimate songs, but not dire ones. The Julie Ruin keep the mood light with retro guitars (“Record Breaker”) and the shrill, infectious wails Hanna has built a career around (“Hell Breaker”). Explicit humor even has a place on this album, on “Mr So and So,” which puts Hanna in the role of “guy who loves girl bands, but is (unsurprisingly) an asshole.” This isn’t the last we’ll hear from Kathleen Hanna, but it can certainly be read as the feminism she’s championed for decades getting to have the last laugh.
Hit Reset comes out July 8 on Hardly Art records.
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