The much-ballyhooed Le Tigre's major-label debut is an interesting meld of political punk, electronic experimentation and dance floor indulgence -- a mostly "hit" but occasionally "miss" effort that showcases both the band's maturation and its residual shortcomings.
The feminist trio retains its sharply political edge on tracks like "Seconds", sparing nothing in telling the president "You make me sick, so sick" and throwing out witty lines like "Your dad's money's too base to mention / His coattails are looking worn." "New Kicks", the album's first single, features audio that band member JD Samson recorded at an antiwar protest in New York City, with the popular refrain, "This is what democracy looks like" set to an infectiously danceable beat.
Even when This Island isn't busy being political, it's still intense. The '80s dancehall vibe is prevalent, especially on "After Dark" and the group's excellent cover of "I'm So Excited".
Unfortunately, odd standouts like the puzzling half-rap "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo" and the disappointingly bland closer "Punker Plus" pull you out of whatever groove the preceding tracks cultivated. In the same vein, "On The Verge" is an energetic opener with a healthy retro-punk aura, but it somehow feels empty despite its loudness. Tracks like "Viz", which addresses the queer lifestyle, and the aforementioned political songs, succeed because of the power of the message behind them. It's not always in the roar -- sometimes it's in the stripes.