REVOLUTION GIRL STYLE NOW by Bikini Kill (Reissue)
Genre: Riot Grrrl, Punk Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Daddy’s Lil’ Girl”, “Carnival”, “Double Dare Ya”, “Playground”
Seminal Riot Grrrrl band Bikini Kill have re-released their incredibly bold and influential cassette from 1991, REVOLUTION GIRL STYLE NOW, with three new tracks, and it’s even more relentless, chaotic, and exciting than could’ve been expected. The DIY “girls to the front” band fronted by Kathleen Hanna briefly brought feminism to the forefront of punk rock’s political landscape in the 90s, while simultaneously delivering some passionately glorious fury. Musically, the band was methodical and poised in their rage, and Kathleen Hanna’s voice had incredible range, from sarcastic sweetness to righteous screaming to straight-up punk rock snottiness that’d make Johnny Rotten proud. The band fell apart years ago, and Hanna’s personal medical struggles (painfully witnessed in the great documentary “The Punk Singer”) have kept Bikini Kill’s music from being easily accessible on the internet, so this re-release is important, providing a new generation to get a chance to take in a subgenre of punk that has sadly trickled off.
The legend of Bikini Kill (their influence on so many female fronted bands that formed after them, their zines and constant activism, etc.)has almost dwarfed their actual music at this point. This serves as a reminder of how fantastic REVOLUTION GIRL STYLE NOW really is; it’s a bottle-smashing, unapologetic, ear splitting, and occasionally playful burst of noise. What I really love about this album is how it’s an intersection of the X-Ray Spex, Flipper, and PENIS ENVY-era Crass; there’s a tangible feeling of Bikini Kill being the next movement in the wave of punk rock history, positing Bikini Kill as an essential band that wouldn’t and couldn’t be ignored.
The three new tracks are tacked neatly onto the end of the original cassette’s track list, but they could fit in anywhere on the record. Despite all the growing up Kathleen Hanna has no doubt done in the last twenty-four years, it still very much feels like she’s the same angry woman that she was two decades ago. The tracks are slightly longer bass-driven grinds as opposed to two minute bursts of noise, but album closer, “Playground”, particularly manages to cover a lot of sonic ground in its three minutes of run-time. “Playground” stands out overall as one of the best tracks, both in comparison to new tracks and the original album. There’s a special fearlessness Hanna possesses; there are few singers in punk who genuinely sound like they will take on anyone in the world who disagrees with them the way that she does. Be it a riot cop, a politician, or an abusive boyfriend, Kathleen Hanna is a voice that refuses to be silenced, which is why it’s so nice to have her back making new music, released on her own website, the DIY way she started out.
Here’s Melvins and Teri Gender Bender demolishing “Rebel Girl”, for good measure.