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Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart

Review: Jack Foley

WILD child, Courtney Love, may have her fair share of bad publicity, in terms of the way she lives her life, but there's generally no doubting that the lady knows how to rock...

Having emerged from the emotional scars of being Kurt Cobain's other half, and coming through drinks, drugs, sex and anything else that came before her, the artist has now released her debut solo album, which possesses all the hallmarks of a rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

When Love sings of 'bad food, bad sex, bad TV', during tracks such as Sunset Strip, or warns that 'I will fuck you up', during Life Despite God, you tend to feel she is saying it with good reason.

This is someone who has certainly lived her lyrics, which makes the impact they have all the more striking.

This may be a loud, angry, rant at times, but it could also be an album that fires straight from the heart.

And its allure doesn't so much lie in her ability to churn out the big numbers (which border on sounding repetitive), but rather her decision to opt for some restraint, at times, during songs which hark back to the writing style of her former band, Hole.

Hence, as hit-and-miss as the album becomes, there is enough to admire about it to consider it a personal success for the artist. It does everything it sets out to, while laying the foundation for a successful solo career, if the singer is so minded.

Mind you, she has drawn on some considerable outside talent to help her, too, most notably in the form of collaborations from esteemed songwriters Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes, Pink, Christina Aguilera) and Bernie Taupin (Elton John), as well as featuring the musical accomplishment of Wayne Kramer (MC5), Kim Deal (Pixies, Breeders) and Scott McCloud (Girls Against Boys).

It's perhaps all the more disappointing then that the album unfolds in such a routine way, with debut single, Mono, getting things off to a routine, if fired up, start.

Love, it seems, is angry at a lot of things, and this manifests itself in the sneering attack on the New Rock Revolution that is Mono, as well as the bitter love song, But Julian, I'm a Little Older Than You, in which she spits lyrics such as 'I can smell her on you everywhere... and I cannot forget', and 'you know when your phone went dead, that was me on the other end'.

Yet as emotive as some of the lyrics become during the early stages, it's not until she starts looking a little more personally that the quality improves, with Sunset Strip, in particular, a stand-out moment, featuring lyrics such as 'rock star, pop star, everybody dies... and I know I won't see tomorrow'.

Strong, too are the likes of Almost Golden, which harks back to her Hole days, and the power ballad, Uncool, which features lyrics such as 'baby, you're a freak show, just like me', before claiming that she wants to be 'uncool'.

Love is one of rock's living enigmas, a performer who is as reviled as she is adored, and who seldom makes any apologies for who she is - be it actress, singer, celebrity or icon.

This album merely serves to heighten that mystique, offering an intriguing insight into a genuine character.

America's Sweetheart she may not be, but it's hard not to love her in some way!


Track listing:
1. Mono
2. But Julian, I'm a Little Older Than You
3. Hold On To Me
4. Sunset Strip
5. All The Drugs
6. Almost Golden
7. I'll Do Anything
8. Uncool
9. Life Despite God
10. Hello
11. Zeplin Song
12. Never Gonna Be the Same

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