Great Fucking Albums #27: Le Tigre (Self-Titled)

Open this link in a new tab and keep reading. We’re going to listen to a song.

Maybe you were cognizant during the 90s. Do you remember Riot Grrrl? If so, you get one point, go to the next question. Do you remember it fondly? You get five points, next question. Are you a dude? Hooray, 20 points and I’m buying you a beer, because I really want to meet you. I’m serious. Where are you guys? A number of conversations I’ve had with other penis-owners about Le Tigre and other Riot Grrrl bands follow a distressingly common structure:

  1. Girlfriend is into this new band.
  2. Dude forced to listen to record / dragged to show.
  3. “Man-hating” experienced!
  4. Girlfriend morphs into lesbian and takes flight on majestic labia wings, never to be seen again.

These guys don’t just “not care for” this music, they blame it for ruining their lives. I’m not even— wait, are you listening to the song in the link? Isn’t that just catchy as hell?— Can you be angry or annoyed, but also having a good time? I’ll bet Kathleen Hanna thinks so, and I kinda think that’s what she set out to display with Le Tigre. Bikini Kill was the band that shitty ex-boyfriends needed to hate; shouldn’t they have self-selected out by the time Le Tigre rolled around? It’s like nobody got the memo when the music started being really fun.

The song you’re listening to, “Deceptacon,” neatly encapsulates pretty much everything you need to know about Le Tigre. If you don’t like this song, you probably won’t like the rest of the songs on the album. As a bonus, it pokes fun at NOFX, who, I just decided, are good stand-ins for the kind of nonsense, misapplied-masculinity douchebaggery that permeates… well, practically every music scene ever.

Check out NOFX’s “Kill Rock Stars” (I’d link to audio but I can’t seem to find any other than the Weird Al version— strange!), read the lyrics to Deceptacon, and know that NOFX also has a song called “Linoleum.” Too much work? I’ll break it down for you:

  1. Fat Mike sounds like Weird Al if Weird Al were boring and untalented.
  2. A lot of guys get really, really defensive when someone points out that they just might, in even a tiny way they didn’t realize, be contributing to a culture that gives gang rape a shrug and a hand-wave and insultsdegradesobjectifies and creepily pedolizes women.
  3. A lot of music sounds the same and that’s fucking boooooooooooooooooooring.
  4. It should be OK for women to do the same things as men, feel safe, and not have people lose their shit over it.

So why does Le Tigre qualify as a Great Fucking Album? Well, it rocks ass, for one thing; it’s also what pop-punk should actually sound like— but probably most impressively, this album is a badass teaching tool for feminism that doesn’t alienate male listeners. If you know a teenage boy, get him this album. With luck, it will open wonderful doors to X-Ray Spex, Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Screaming Females, and all kinds of other awesome stuff. He will learn that such questions as “what’s it like to be a girl in a band?” are stupid and unnecessary. Most importantly, it will help populate my world with more guys I want to buy a beer instead of slap in the coin purse.