“I DON’T THINK you’re sorry at all/Hit reset,” sings Kathleen Hanna on the title track of the Julie Ruin’s glitchy punk sophomore album. It’s an immediate whiteout, cutting through years of lazy qualifiers about Hanna’s role as a leader of the ’90s riot grrrl movement to something more personal. For the entirety of Hit Reset, Hanna’s at the wheel, careening through her own past with listeners in the passenger seat.
With song titles like “Rather Not,” “Let Me Go,” and “I’m Done,” Hanna revisits trauma on her own terms. Over ominously droning guitar riffs, on “I Decide” she sings, “You may be a thorn I witnessed/A pain I need to co-exist with/But I’ll decide.” Though she carries the pain of childhood abuse, and that of her battle with Lyme disease, for these 13 songs she’s steering the conversation.
But it’s not all retrospective—Hanna greets today’s goblins with the same fire that scorched Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl,” particularly on “I’m Done,” where she eviscerates the confidence of online commenters, and standout “Planet You,” where she advises a lying narcissist to “Start a Kickstarter for your heart.” It’s irritated but amused punk that’s punctuated by hand claps and Hanna’s dark wit in metaphors like “Bought a cake for me with your name on it/Candles blown out by your yawn.”
“Mr. So and So” playfully deflates the egos of self-identifying male feminists who don’t seem to understand what, exactly, that means. Hanna imitates these men who commodify her in a 30-second monologue; particularly poignant phrases include “I jump out of my plane in a parachute that says ‘girls rule’ with a Sleater-Kinney T-shirt on,” “Oops I snuck a kiss/come on it was just a joke/my girlfriend’s a really big fan,” and, of course, “You play so good for a girl.”
“Hello Trust No One” kicks someone to the curb with the independent swagger of country legends like Loretta Lynn, as Hanna reminds listeners over frenetic keyboard, “I can play/one handed guitar/While braiding my hair/on a shooting star.”
Throughout Hit Reset, Hanna assures listeners with the snappy resilience of lyrics like “Death or sunshine is in my DNA” and “Maybe I’m more hell-bent on living than I am on just surviving.” It’s a loud, clear reminder—she’s still fighting for the sunshine.