Apr 26, 2010, 09:42AM

Courtney Love is Nobody's Daughter

The not-quite Hole reunion album that somehow isn't completely awful.

Hole nobodys daughter album 1.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

One of rock ‘n’ roll’s favorite punch lines, Courtney Love, returns to the frontlines on April 27 with the new Hole album, Nobody’s Daughter. In the six years since her last official recording—the train wreck that was her solo disc, America’s Sweetheart—she’s lost her band, millions of dollars, custody of her daughter, and to a large degree whatever cachet she had as a serious artist.

When it was reported last week that she was changing her name to Courtney Michelle, erroneously, as it turns out, hardly an eye was batted.

“She’s not changing her name, unless it’s to ‘Courtney Love Mellencamp’ or ‘Big Baby Jesus’,” Love’s spokesperson told MTV.
That’s a pretty good line, but it underscores the paradox that comes when trying to appreciate Love: If she’s not going to take herself seriously, why should we?

Billed as a “Hole reunion,” despite the fact that nobody besides Love from the group’s original line-up is on hand, Nobody’s Daughter has taken a long and twisted road to fruition, starting some five years ago as a second solo album. Producers, musicians, songwriters and other collaborators shuffled in and out, as Love herself did with various rehab outfits, in a bizarro-world parody of the making of Chinese Democracy.

The end result is, as you’d expect, a mixed bag. Daughter opens with its title track, a Pixies-ish dirge that serves mainly to remind why dirges were rarely the Pixies’ strength, and follows it up with “Skinny Little Bitch,” a by-the-numbers Love-ian snarl about how she’s still the alpha female on the block, notable only for the sped-up tempo and trademark Courtney shrieks that it ends upon.

So far, so ho-hum, but then things get interesting. A one-two-three punch of “Honey,” “Pacific Coast Highway,” and “Samantha” prove that Love still has something to say and the wherewithal to say it. It’s been easy to forget just how elastic an instrument Love’s voice can be, capable of moving in subtle shades from introspective disgust to full-blown angst while rarely veering into over-singing; these three numbers prove that she’s still got it.

Unfortunately, the album soon subsides back into generic rock. The faceless band and uninspiring collaborators—Billy Corgan (of course), also-ran producer Michael Beinhorn, and this generation’s Carole Bayer Sager, Linda Perry—do their best to flatten the proceedings into a perceived version of what “the kids” want from a 45-year-old woman who last dented the pop-culture din by falling asleep at the Pam Anderson roast.

Still, there’s enough evidence here that Love’s future arguably looks the brightest it has in years. Who else can come up with lines about women who “wrap [their] legs around the world,” “I swear I’m too young to be this old” and “I’ve pierced the last hole in my arm/To gouge out the pieces of you” with such aplomb?

But what’s most impressive about Nobody’s Daughter isn’t that it’s not the fiasco so many expected. It’s that it exists at all.


Register or Login to leave a comment