The press preview of Hit Reset first rolled into my inbox over a week ago, and despite not having much else on musically, I put off listening to it.

When I looked at all the shiny, neatly named mp3 files - 'I'm Done', 'Be Nice', 'Hello, Trust No One' - there all sprightly and nestled in the rectangular body of the 405 email, I felt mostly anxiety. I resented them being there, little digital capsules of uncertainty, ready to spring sound out at me.

The Julie Ruin's previous record Run Fast was my favourite record released in my lifetime. Ohmygod, Kathleen Hanna's voice on 'Stop Stop', getting all desperate and shrill and high and then cracking right open in the space of one half-word into being grungy and grumpy and cocky-desolate. I'd not heard the verbal foibles of my generation attested to before I found that album.

'Millennials' are poorer than our parents. The kind of jobs we have provide less regular hours and are less likely to be unionised. Financially, it's harder than ever before to fund starting a company or starting out in a band or buying a house. There's a simmering mental health crisis. The provision of the welfare state is less comprehensive than at any other time in the post-war period. We're having a hard time, but we're told we're having the best time ever. Supposedly we're selfish and more concerned with the immediacy of fun than our parents were. I'd argue we're only less concerned with saving up for bigger life-projects because that kind of stability seems so inaccessible anyway. It's hard to admit how much you want something and to start to try for it when you aren't even close to getting it.

I've had many conversations with underemployed, single friends that've started with them saying how much they miss having a bit of structure or purpose in their lives, then quickly gear-changed into laughing at over-earnest people with "no chill" as soon as they start to feel embarrassed that they've come across as too intense or too ungrateful for the here and now. On 'Run Fast', Kathleen Hanna's voice accelerated through the full gamut of caring so much you might burst through to detaching from the whole system with a 'lol, whatever' faster than anyone else I've ever heard sing emotional songs,

I don't nominally buy into the idea that if you make something great you have to shut up forever in its wake, so I didn't admit even to myself why I wasn't opening the new Julie Ruin songs. It was because the verbal ticks, the guttural distress-noises and the sense of humour of Run Fast was so precisely mapped to the conversations I'd had with young female friends and I know that so many second albums are exaggerated copies of the first. Even a slight exaggeration of music that trades so firmly on the precision of its honesty would appear to me as gross distortion. The feeling of validation the Julie Ruin had given me was too precious to maybe mess up with a new, overdone pastiche of all they'd already given me. I feared that's what Hit Reset would be.

I opened the files yesterday. It wasn't.

***

Hit Reset is so contemporary, so sharply observational, that the immediacy of it actually pained me the first time I tried to listen to it. I first played track 'Mr. So and So' while walking around the new Kings Cross complex on my lunch break. It's a close-to-the-bone diss track about a type of man that I've often encountered but felt guilty for disliking as they're supposed to be 'the nice guy'. As it played, I had to stop and lean against one of the bars of the new birdcage swing to rub my temples in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure accumulating because of the sheer momentum of growing self-acknowledgment I felt listening to it.

Taking on the voice of a male fan who uses an awareness of Kathleen's feminist-music history-making as a talisman to protect from any and all further feminist criticism of his behaviour, Kathleen sings, "I'll get your autograph/ take it to show my women's studies class/ where I won't listen to a word the teacher says," adding that, "I got my Sleater-Kinney t-shirt on" before finally telling Kathleen's character, "now you go off and fix the world." The sentiment of the song is perfectly summed up by it' chorus: "You can't say goodbye before I get my hello/ Mr. So and So." Or, in other words, you can't finish enjoying my image before you've done anything to contribute to the politics it's in service of.

Later in the album 'Rather Not' furthers the idea that women need not be grateful for any and all attention from men, regardless of whether those men have adopted the 'feminist' moniker to describe themselves. To that end, the cheerily delivered chorus claims that "if you really love me, I'd really rather not know."

***

Hit Reset has more synth and more sound effects than Run Fast. With it, The Julie Ruin have moved closer to the show tunes influenced half of punk, and further from the grunge influenced half. In its honest mapping of the experiences of being a women involved in music scenes though, it is consistent with the very best of their previous work.