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Music Review

Hole: 'Nobody's Daughter'

By
Hole 'Nobody's Daughter'
Released on Monday, May 3 2010

"What's in a name?" young Juliet once asked. "That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet," she insisted. "Not if you called 'em stench blossoms," retorts Bart Simpson, and maybe he had a point. Roses would boast the same fragrance if they were called crapweeds, but we doubt they'd fly out the florists as fast. All of which makes Courtney Love's late-in-the-day resurrection of her old bandname after the commercial/critical setback of her solo debut, America's Sweetheart, immediately suspect. Without Eric Erlandson et al, is anyone - apart from smutty hacks - interested in Courtney's Hole anymore? Is this comeback any more valid than the Sugababes' endless twists and turns, or those nostalgia groups touring '60s hits with a bunch of strangers and a brand-name attached?

"Play. This. Recording. Very. Very. Loud. Please." the sleeve begs, so we do, and Nobody's Daughter comes out of the traps so strong we're genuinely taken aback. The brooding bluster of the title track melds grungy waves of sound with almost Britpoppy guitar lines, while the lyrics herald a beguilingly fluent rebirth for Love as a wordsmith: "And I will dig my own grave / I'm misbegotten / I am the last one you save here / Of course, I'll sleep forever and forever". It's hard to reconcile the twisted eloquence of the verses with the incoherence spewed by Love on Twitter over the past few months.

The record keeps up that momentum with the Kings Of Leon/Smashing Pumpkins-esque grunge thrash of 'Skinny Little Bitch', which pipped Billy Corgan/Linda Perry/Love collaboration 'Samantha' in the race to be the first single. Both marry chunky chord progressions with Love's rasping growl and melodies that belie the harshness of their tone and words. 'Samantha' especially is the sort of song which could be rearranged for a delicately-voiced popstrel and slither up the charts - well, if it didn't include the repeated refrain "People like you / F**k people like me", anyway. Another Corgan co-write, 'Loser Dust', is almost throwaway in its screams, yelps and squeals, but the backing from the Hole Mk?!? lineup of Micko Larkin, Shawn Dailey and Stu Fisher keeps things chugging along nicely.

Like Love's late husband's band, Hole's more tender moments are sometimes overshadowed by all the distorted thrashing, though some of their finest songs ('Doll Parts', 'Miss World') were the most considered. Here, that vibe is represented with the plaintive, Perry-penned 'Letter To God' and the wonderfully strained, Dylan-inspired laments of 'Someone Else's Bed' and 'For Once In Your Life'. Nobody's Daughter gets a touch samey as it goes on and slightly runs out of steam towards the end, but this is still a much better record than anyone has any right to expect from Love and her new (and old) friends. When the final notes fade away, the question on your lips isn't 'Is it really a Hole record?', but instead, 'Does it really matter?'.

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