Julie Ruin, the do-it-yourself alter ego of ex-Bikini Kill lead singer Kathleen Hanna, likes to keep things simple. Where Hanna spewed bloodcurdling screams over the feedback-drenched, three-chord punk of Bikini Kill, Ruin sings seemingly nonthreatening nuggets of catchy pop. Despite the new musical background, Ruin's material is just as intelligent, angry, and ironic as Hanna's work with Bikini Kill. Julie Ruin was made almost entirely in Hanna's bedroom. She uses four-track and eight-track machines, cheapo samplers, and keyboards to create the lo-fi sound of this album. With new background sounds emerging around her, Hanna produces a variety of music, ranging from the near-hip-hop of "Radical or Pro-Parental," the anti-cop rap of "I Wanna Know What Love Is," and the danceable groove on "A Place Called Won't Be There." The only time she overloads the speakers is with "The Punk Singer," which exposes some of the contradictions inherent in the punk subculture. The lo-fi production does take a bit of power away from some of the music. This is apparent with the murky mix on "V.G.I." and the almost inaudible "Love Letter," which samples the Clash's "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A." Now that Bikini Kill are defunct, Hanna shows that she still has more than enough to say.
AllMusic Review by Brian Flota