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Joshua X

CD of The Week

Week of 8/01/16

    The Julie Ruin - Hit Reset (Hardly Art)

    Kathleen Hanna's triumphant return to our ears and our hearts was not an easy one. The excellent documentary The Punk Singer revealed a long struggle with undiagnosed Lyme disease, which struck again just as she was finally starting a new chapter of her life and career with The Julie Ruin, a full band tweak on her original post-Bikini Kill solo outlet. While their 2013 album Run Fast certainly satisfied everyone's long-gestating craving for more of the fun and ferocity Hanna brought to the table, its focus felt somewhat nebulous. Not so with Hit Reset, which feels like a fuller, fierier resurrection following her recent relapse.

    Like its predecessor, Hit Reset proves a potent synthesis of her past projects. The perky, resigned "I'm Done" recalls Hanna's similarly poppy work with Le Tigre, while the punky, resolved "I Decide" sounds like an HD revival of her most anxious, ambitious Bikini Kill cuts. Where Reset gets an edge, however, is in a decidedly more personal lyrical bent (note how both those songs use first person). No one would dare call Hanna shy, but these songs are arguably the most revealing she has ever written. The opening title track--incidentally the most Julie Ruin sounding thing here--goes into painful, powerful detail about what kind of man/monster her father was, while the poignant closer "Calverton" is a soft, sweet ballad for the mother that helped her grow through and past the monstrosity.

    Both bookends paint the picture of how she became such a formidable feminist icon. Everything in between cements and celebrates who that icon was, is, and will forever be with her trademark wit, rage, and defiant vulnerability. With this Reset, Hanna and The Julie Ruin sound ready to not only survive hardship, but thrive, both in spite and because of it.

    The Julie Ruin return to Philadelphia when they headline Union Transfer on August 20th.
    Review by Rob Huff

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