In 1994, Courtney Love's band Hole released Live Through This, one of the era's most powerful pop albums and a landmark of female-fronted rock 'n' roll. Hole disbanded in 2002, but Courtney Love -- widow of the late Kurt Cobain -- has assembled a new band under that name on a new album called Nobody's Daughter.
Ever since Live Through This, it's been hard to hear the music of Courtney Love -- or Courtney Michelle, as she prefers to be called now -- over the tabloid noise of her personal life. And even when you could, the music hasn't measured up. Now, she's re-formed Hole with an entirely new lineup and made a record that -- OK, I know what you're thinking and, no, actually, it doesn't suck.
The album contains rockers like "Samantha," which ends with a unbroadcastable string of F-bombs. But Love's voice seems pretty blown out. The record's most powerful moments are ballads that show a ravaged woman who, to paraphrase an old Hole song, is lying in the bed that she's made. Often, she's addressing an absent lover.
Another new record made me think about Courtney Love, and the permission she essentially granted female singers of this generation to express desire with the same train-wreck messiness as the dudes. Kate Nash is from England, and when Hole's Live Through This was released, she was 6 years old.
Nash's 2007 debut hit the top of the British charts. Her latest album, called My Best Friend Is You, shows a 22-year-old who sees no reason why a pop star shouldn't make records full of screaming, cursing, social outrage and sexual confusion along with catchy tunes. It sometimes sounds more like a multi-artist shuffle mix than an album.
But it's impressive. And it walks a road paved by artists like Patti Smith and Courtney Love, who similarly saw no reason the feminine couldn't be expressed with as much raw power and aggression as the masculine.
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