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Northern State, ‘Can I Keep This Pen?’ (Ipecac)

By immediately bragging about their superlative mic skills and overall fly-ness on this third album, the ladies of Northern State prepare us for a hip-hop record similar to their first: goofy, Beastie Boys-style bravado with an erudite twist. Instead, MCs Hesta Prynn, Spero, and Sprout morph into an electro-rock trio on the jump-along “Better Already” — and they can’t, won’t, and don’t stop. Some halfhearted rhymes linger, but contagiously energetic political jams such as “Cold War” make it easy to forget that it’s been three years since anyone heard from Le Tigre.

Now Hear This: Northern State – “Better Already” DOWNLOAD MP3