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CD Review: Nobody’s Daughter

BY ERIC SUNDERMANN | APRIL 27, 2010 7:30 AM

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** out of *****

When I think about a female rock star — stilettos, tattoos, tight jeans — no other woman fits the description more than Hole’s Courtney Love. And she even has the story to go with it — rock-star boyfriend suicide, drug addiction, and a stint in rehab.

But no matter what, no matter how hard Love tries, there’s one part about being a rock star that she forgets with Hole’s new album, Nobody’s Daughter. That would be making music.

To call the group’s fourth studio album a Hole album is a bit of a stretch. The only original returning member is Love, and she’s so far removed from herself at the time of Hole’s peak in 1994, it’s like she’s not there, either.

The major flaw with Nobody’s Daughter is that Love is trying too hard. The singer yells unnecessary curse words with a screechy and overly aggressive voice, trying to create a hopeless and underappreciated feel on the album that isn’t there.

She’s trying to reach back to the good ol’ days of Hole, the times of Live Through This, trying to create that same heartbreaking yet rockable feel. But she can’t do it. To call her lyrics cliché or trite, such as “your whole world is in my hands / your whole wide world is in my hands” on “Pacific Coast Highway” would be an understatement, to say the least.

And these problems continue. Along with the monotony of Love’s vocals, the musicianship of the album doesn’t do anything new or exciting. It’s the same distorted guitar chords over and over and over again. Granted, Hole always had a grungy, distorted feel to its music, but this repetitiveness (combined with Love’s voice) is unbearable.

The only bright spot on the album is with “How Dirty Girls Get Clean.” This song is the only moment when listeners can actually identify with how Love is feeling. Her lyrics of frustration, anxiety, and female empowerment finally make sense, and I find myself caring about her. I wonder why she hurts. I wonder what the pain is. I wonder how to help.

But then it stops. Nobody’s Daughter returns to the monotonous mess that it was. Love closes the album with “Never Go Hungry,” which sounds like her attempt to write a Bob Dylan song. Except rather than Dylan’s earnest, scratchy voice, we get Love sounding like a teenage boy going through puberty.

It’s sad, really, because Love is a good musician. Live Through This continues to be one of the most celebrated grunge albums of the ’90s, but that success isn’t enough to make up for the performance on Nobody’s Daughter. It’s an 11-track long train wreck. If you’re yearning for some grunge, just go grab some early Hole and don’t waste your time with Nobody’s Daughter.

Eric’s Pick: Early ’90s Courtney Love, when she was only kind of crazy, not really, really crazy.


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