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Hole: Nobody’s Daughter – the only UK review you need to read*

May 3, 2010

So I held off reviewing this, the most anticipated album of the year (for me, anyway) until I could actually legally download it and give it a thoroughly good listen, then of course post a review here.

And? Well first of all, to say I was knock-kneed and trembling in anticipation of getting this in my grubby hands is an extreme understatement; I’ve wanted to hear it ever since the first demos began floating around the interwebs in 2007. That of course was when it was a Courtney Love solo album, and regardless of the Hole moniker it still very much is.

But anyway, the most important thing is – is it any bloody good? And yes it bloody well is. It has faults – it’s overproduced in parts, and there’s a chugalong riff element I blame on the session musicians used which detracts from the spiky brilliance of true Hole songs. There are also some rather melodramatic moments I could live without, to me Letter to God, supposedly the standout track, is a tacky soap wstory reading of Courtney Love’s life by erstwhile co-writer Linda Perry – 45 years of Love’s turbulent life bashed into four overtly bombastic minutes.

HOWEVER. There are moments of sheer brilliance, and yes I mean BRILLIANCE. Pacific Coast Highway is genuinely lovely, its California Beach Boy style harmonies making it, strangely, the song Fleetwood Mac should have written. I defy you not to listen to the harmonies at the line ‘and you know I’m drowning’ and not shiver deliciously. There’s Samantha, with it’s refrain ‘people like you fuck people like me in order to avoid agony’ which is incredibly satisfying to scream lustily along with.

There’s Honey, the one obvious song which deals with the loss of Love’s husband, while Never Go Hungry Again is a song almost pathetic in its defiance, and Dylan-esque in its refrain. In fact, amidst all the kerfuffle about Billy Corgan writing tracks, it’s interesting that the best tracks are often the ones in which Courtney Love herself has done all the work – Ms Love, I feel, should be confident enough to trust her own instincts on what makes a good song – at times the ones she has co-written with Corgan, Perry or newer collaborator Micko Larkin feel as though her big personality is fighting with theirs for space.

But where was I? Ah yes, the title track’s stirring strings sweeping along a genuinely ambitious track – ambition being something far too few rock albums strive for nowadays. Skinny Little Bitch is a deceptively simple song that culminates in a frenetic scream that sounds fantastic coming out of the speakers – my poor neighbours have been subjected to it several times today already. Someone’s Else’s Bed has a lovely end refrain and some great lyrics regarding a particularly bad one night stand: ‘my dirty little secret has a wretched little name … I quite enjoy your suffering, I want to watch the view'”.

And there are the bonus tracks – Happy Ending Story, and a cover of Codine, written by the amazing Buffy Saint Marie, reveal that Love’s voice, while wracked by years of abuse, has matured into a fantastically bluesy instrument. The scream is more desperate but her cadence and emotion have become extraordinary.

The unusual fact that much of the album was already known by fans means there is some disappointment that not all songs written were included – Car Crash and Sunset Marquis being two I’m particularly missing. I’m hoping both are coming as b-sides.

But in the meantime, I’d give the album an overall, robust 8/10. Perhaps most excitingly, Love is still writing – during an AOL acoustic session recently she performed the new song ‘Pretty Your Whole Life’. For a band whose first album was called ‘Pretty on the Inside’, it denotes a cycle back to the orignal material that propelled the band into the spotlight that I would welcome.


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