The Julie Ruin will make existing Julie Ruin fans happy, as well as the younger siblings, nieces, and nephews of said fans. “Run Fast” is occasionally brilliant and rarely annoying. I had really high expectations, and they were almost met, with the tracks at the end of the album sounding about 20x better than the pre-release singles.
This paragraph is dedicated for some information fans may already know. Kathleen Hanna was a one-woman show using a pseudonym when she released the self-titled “Julie Ruin” in 1997. It was tremendous, but it was also the only release under that name. Fast forward 16 years, and Hanna leads a group called “the Julie Ruin,” who have released an album called “Run Fast.” Whether this has anything to do with Le Tigre’s “Let’s Run” is beyond me.
I don’t have a lot of information to share beyond the advance of the record that I received, so thank goodness you can read the band’s website to learn more instead of reading it here. Let me instead give you reason to be excited about the new album and, hopefully for you, the upcoming tour.
It’s a delight to have new material that sounds just enough like the original Julie Ruin record to make you nostalgic. You know that feeling when you discover an old B-side import of a favorite artist, how you get that rush that you thought you would never get to have again because you thought you’d heard everything ever recorded? That’s the feeling you get with this new record. “Goodnight Goodbye” takes me back to a time when car salesmen thought they would be able to sell Saturns forever, and when you went “on the online,” you could find everything you were looking for on Altavista.
“Oh Come on,” which was one of two songs leaked early on Spotify, has been well-received and deservedly so. It is similar to Le Tigre’s “Lt Tour Theme” with the addition of a random guy providing backing yelling at random times. If I made a video of this song, that guy would be a Muppet of some sort, even if that concept has been overly done. There’s no other way to open a guy’s mouth wide enough to yell “oh come on!” unless it is a Muppet mouth.
The other pre-release track was “Ha Ha Ha,” which is fine but not the record’s best. Much better is “Girls Like Us,” which sounds like Ke$ha imitating Hanna. That’s a good thing. Get over yourself. This track also has upbeat synths and bells, almost like Book of Love, as opposed to the usual angry synths (otherwise a hallmark of the Julie Ruin sound). Anyone who uses “Girls Like Us” as a theme song is instantly awesome, the same way that those who liked the bands in Le Tigre’s “Hot Topic” were automatic winners.
The fun track for me was “South Coast Plaza,” which has a guy singing (maybe the same guy as in “Oh Come on”) and Hanna doing backing vocals. It reminds me of some old Beat Happening and Heavenly tracks, even if the voice isn’t as deep as Calvin Johnson’s.
A rare miss was the melody in “Just My Kind.” Skip it. Instead, jump to Side 2 if this releases on vinyl, and wear that motherfucker out. After 20 years, Hanna is still cooler than I’ll ever be, and that’s just fine with me.