The only disappointing thing about Le Tigre's new disc, "From the Desk of Mr. Lady" (Mr. Lady is the name of their record label), is that it's too short. The follow-up to their self-titled debut disc (released in 1999) picks up where the other release left off: more drum machine rhythms mixed with child's toy-like synthesizers and infectious loops of fuzz guitar, peppered with various distorted vocals and samples.
But where the previous album was a joyous shout-out to feminism's grown up ex-riot grrls, "From the Desk of Mr. Lady" is more of a call to arms: the first three tracks are overtly political, and two more are critical of the current state of criticism and pop culture. The opening track, "Get Off the Internet", laments the not-really-cool-anymore state of political activism in the new century, while "Bang! Bang!", the second track, is an angry rant against police brutality in New York City; the 41 shots fired at unarmed African immigrant Amidou Diallo are counted off one by one in a scathing indictment of the police department's continued acts of unwarranted aggression against black males. The third track (the eccentrically titled "They want us to make a symphony out of the sound of women swallowing their own tongues") uses a simple drum machine loop and various vocal samples to explore the where-do-we-go-from-here state of modern feminism. It begins with a male voice asking the obvious: women have so many options and so much freedom in constructing their identities these dayswhat exactly is the problem? Le Tigre answers with samples of women speaking that get cut off too soon or are simply a series of umms and ahs that convey the inability of feminism to answer that question, while at the same time holding firm that there are still issues with the role of the woman in modern society. Even the deceptively sweet "Gone b4 yr home", about a woman leaving a man, works in a subtle male backing vocal that asks the frat-boy version of the question asked in "They want us to make a symphony out of the sound of women swallowing their own tongues" (Le Tigre credits this vocal part as "clueless asshole" in the liner notes).
All in all, this a fine sophomore effort that turns up the gas on the political torch without feeling at all preachy; the same sense of fun and playfulness that made their first record such a joy to listen to is evident on this disc despite the pointed political themes. We can only hope that their next effort will take less time to record and contain a full serving of songs.