Le Tigre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Le Tigre 

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For anyone still coming to grips with Le Tigre's latest album, This Island (Universal), a brief history is in order. This Island came out five years after the trio's 1999 debut; Reject All American, the swan song from Kathleen Hanna's old band, Bikini Kill, came out five years after its first release. On both records you can hear a band, a half decade after it started, compensating for a slight erosion of inspiration and enthusiasm by emphasizing chops and slyness of execution; after all, only a fetishist of primitivism or an outright knob can be an amateur forever. The big difference this time is that Hanna has finally really gone pop--"selling out," as we used to say, to Universal. And sad to say, her pop is way less fun than her art. "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo" is lesson umpteen zillion that no, rapping isn't just talking rhythmically, and while the electro peace march "New Kicks" has a better beat than I've heard at any rally, it also suggests that bringing funk to the left is still a more urgent mission than bringing leftism to the radio. But Le Tigre hit the mark when they aim for 80s synth pop instead of hip-hop: their cover of the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited" pinpoints the thrill of karaoke, while on "After Dark" they're totally crushed out and just can't hide it. And when they're not straining for relevance--like they do on "Viz," which addresses the complications of lesbian identity, and "Don't Drink Poison," about the intersection of careerism and feminism--they add new wrinkles to their music without simplifying their politics. Electrelane opens. Wed 8/10, 7 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, $21. All ages.

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