Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nobody’s Daughter (Hole) (2010)

Bitch’s Brew

Rolling Stone dubs her ‘the most controversial woman in rock’ but a quick look at Courtney Love’s shenanigans over the last decade would more make her the saddest. There has been far more rehab time, lawsuits and denial than actual new music from her and even though SPIN loved her America’s Sweetheart solo gig, that was all of six years ago. Nobody’s Daughter is in fact a five year project that had spawned its own problematic mythology, which Love has actively encouraged just for the heck of it and because, now in her mid-forties, it’s really all she has left of a once glamorous life.

Lyrically, the album points towards contrition and the settling of a guilty conscience, something Love has thwarted doing for many years. The title track deals, in depth, with Kurt Cobain’s suicide and the speculation on whatever role she may have had in the act (your whole wide world/ is in my hands/ I’ve got your blood in my hands/ and you know I’m drowning). Never Go Hungry Again affirms the descent to which her personal life fell into (and out of it all/ I’m still alive/ from the fires of hell/ I have survived). These are only two tracks but they set the overall tone of Nobody’s Daughter even though she hijacks the mood often by centering on sorrows she brought upon herself.

Lost among all this touchy-feely stuff though is the raw firework that had always set Love apart from other rockers. For Once in Your Life sounds more like a Stevie Nicks-wannabe on Vh-1 Storytellers than Love biting into a bitter pill. Letter to God gives us her most disarming line ever (why the hell am I so out of control?), yet this is a ballad which only turns the amps up towards the end, only to cave into, gasp, the type of adult contemporary that usually signals when an artist is out of ideas. She has wisely removed the awful Stand Up Motherf-cker that featured on the original leak in January but its absence still doesn’t lift the album. Loser Dust salvages some pride because it plugs the amps early and Love’s voice sounds enriched instead of drained, even though its wah wah chorus has little to say really.

This, funnily enough, leads to the catch-22 situation Love finds herself in way too often. Her contrition when dealing with her rowdy past with Cobain is juxtaposed with the failed fire of her current life without him. She’s spent so much of her career in his shadow that emerging from under it now would only further alienate listeners from her. Thus, her co-dependence on his name has driven her to frustration in two parts: the great years between 1994—1998 when she literally rocked. But also the lean years, which is everything since because it all started to take a toll on her. It didn’t help that she has never stopped at anything to impress upon us the extent of her own singular talent. The fact that her band, Hole hasn’t recorded new music for the past thirteen years is indicative of Love’s inability to sacrifice her own personality for a collaborative effort. Indeed, original members, Melisa der Maur and Eric Erlandson, are not even featured on this project. Love hasn’t even dealt with that publicly. In interviews all she’s fixated on is how much of her energy is invested in the album, ad nauseum.

The sad thing for her though is that she’s far easier to digest when others are in control of her direction. What little that works on Nobody’s Daughter is due mainly to the production and personal support Linda Perry and Billy Corgan--a far more important male figure in her life than Cobain-- have given Love over the years. Without their push and effort then she may have never been able to release the album, much less still have an emotional outlet for her despair. Nobody’s Daughter fights the same old ghosts she’s been battling since her rise to fame (adoption issues, family upheaval, infamy, etc.) but at what point, one wonders, does Love ever plan to cease manipulating them for her own purposes and finally release them?

RATING: 5/10

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