Punk and dance music just don't mix well, although many have tried. Furthermore, most attempts to say something political through that troubled medium come off less legit than Christian rap. However, punks still want to boogie, so clear the dancefloor for Le Tigre's This Island, perhaps the ultimate punk-rock dance record. Not only is this album fun, intelligent, and booty-inspiring, it also has the coolest beats ever concocted by outraged feminist punkers -- Kathleen Hanna, formerly of the revolutionary grrrl flagship Bikini Kill, can screech with the best of 'em, but she's much more listenable when she sings in her sultry, wide-ranging voice. "Tell You Now" -- a somber song about victimization and possibly rape -- is a great showcase for that croon, as well as her still-powerful full-throated roar. Produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, the tune also benefits from a stellar drum track and a swell guitar solo, all adding up to the most mature song this trio has penned yet. Another stunner is the New Wave-y "After Dark," which sounds like one of Missing Persons' better tunes.
Though the band's hardcore faithful might not be thrilled with its inaugural major-label product, This Island doesn't completely subvert the band's famously bratty vibe, so there's no shortage of I-don't-give-a-shit-what-you-think attitude here, though the occasional rapping and high-pitched wailing can be grating. Ultimately, it's the sophisticated beats and not-so-punk crooning that carries this record, clearly the band's finest.
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