Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Dirty Girls Get Clean

True, Courtney Love is a mess; but that mess is one of the last true rock stars around today. Yesterday, her reformed band, Hole, released "Nobody's Daughter," an album five years in the making. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I doubted it would be on par with their dual 90s masterpieces "Live Through This" and "Celebrity Skin." I think most were expecting something along the lines of Courtney's slightly underrated 2004 solo effort "America's Sweetheart."
Upon first listen, I'd have to say it's somewhere between the two. She's still fascinated by southern California, and she sure loves those mid-tempo partially acoustic rock anthems. The lyrics have slipped a bit, but the hooks are still there. It's nearly impossible not to sing along with "Pacific Coast Highway" even though it's fairly reminiscent of "Sunset Strip" and, to a point, "Malibu." There should probably be a little more "Samantha" and a little less "Letter To God," but I'll take any Courtney I can get for the time being.
No song is perfect. Courtney wails on the harder tracks, and her voice is lacking on the ballads; but it's the ballads that somehow seem the most heartfelt. It doesn't help that Courtney remains the only original member of her band. She's talented, but she needs a solid group of experienced musicians to back her up, not an incidental group of guys from bands she's liked in the past.
I think Courtney and Madonna have a lot more in common than they'd like to admit. Music, especially performance, is cathartic for them--a way to exorcise their demons. Now that Courtney is (supposedly) clean and sober, she's trying to confess her sins and tell her tale of destruction and redemption. "I swear I'm to young to be this old," she sings on "For Once In Your Life." She might be on the right path, but I'm not sure she'll ever reach her destination.

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