Record Review - 6 January 23 2002

Creating a brilliant, path-finding debut album is both a terrific calling card and a lousy career move. Top it once (or even come close to matching it), or move in different directions as convincingly as you burst on the scene, and you have yourself a career. Keep the formula intact with minor t weaks and you find yourself living forever in its shadow, a cult act whose crowds turn up at the live shows to sit through the new material with hopes of hearing the first album's vanguard verve — think Portishead or Cypress Hill.?

Thank the Goddess that Le Tigre avoids slipping into this category by the skin of its teeth with Feminist Sweepstakes. The new album may not measure up to Le Tigre's self-titled 1999 debut — of course, not much else since has either — but it's a damn sight better than From the Desk of Mr. Lady, the disappointingly rigid EP the trio issued in January, transmuting that disc's inspired amateurism into informed professionalism.?

Vocalist Kathleen Hanna has never sounded more righteously angry than she does on Sweepstakes' "On Guard" — which is saying something for this former Bikini Kill bellower and reluctant riot-grrrl focal point. And the electro- flavored bump that Hanna, Johanna Fateman and J.D. Samson (who replaced Sadie Benning after Le Tigre) crank out on "Well Well Well" ("Supersize it, yeah, yeah") and "Dyke March 2001" ("We recruit!") is sharp and funny. Still, you may miss the debut's invigorating i nexpertise — something Hanna's accomplished with two different bands now, two more than most musicians ever manage.