Kill Rock Stars and its hometown of Olympia, Washington have done more for feminism in the past couple of decades than the National Organization of Women has. At least in the rock ‘n’ roll department. Starting with riot grrrl and progressing through the glorious maturation of Sleater-Kinney (R.I.P.), that label and city have provided a musical catalog of women’s movement punk. And Slumber Party, although hailing from Detroit, fits nicely into that pantheon.
The leader of the otherwise revolving cast is Aliccia Berg, who has a lot in common sonically with Kathleen Hannah. She’s taken the original fighting spirit of riot grrrl, relegated the spastic guitar work to the background, and replaced it with electro-experimentalism. “10-9-8-7-6-5-4” counts down into an album full of throbbing robo grooves. “Boys/Girls” fits what sounds to be early Atari game noises over a song straight out of the Bratmobile cannon. And the backbone of “Hey Hey China” is made out of ticking digital-clock beats.
Of course, Berg has some messages for her younger female listeners. “Thin is Wide” and “So Sick” both seem to be at least partly about girls’ body image issues. The second coyly plays on an anorexic’s drive to become so thin that she completely disappears from male sight. The gist of “Destruction/Construction” is a little harder to get. With the chorus, “Sometimes destruction/ Is better than construction,” let’s just hope Berg is talking about literary theory and not nation building.
The album ends on its high note with “Electric Cave.” After ten songs of equal measures of preachiness and cheekiness, Berg sets aside any irony for a tune that’s sublimely pretty and touching. With its repeated descending piano chords and insistent buzzing in the background, it’s a song Mimi Parker of Low might pull off very aptly.
After the critical success of Le Tigre’s 1991 self-titled debut and Feminist Sweepstakes (2001), it’s surprising more acts haven’t looked to Le Tigre for inspiration. If more ladies like Aliccia Berg begin to, the results could get more and more interesting.