Album Review: Nobody’s Daughter

Written by Adam Rathe on . Posted in Posts.

At the end of Hole’s new
record—Nobody’s Daughter, out this week—there’s a song called
“Never Go Hungry Again.” It’s been bouncing around for a few years; a
Billy Braggstyle number that sounds great live but loses something in
recording. On this version of the record—the real version, unlike
the leaks and demos that have surfaced again and again—when Courtney
Love stops singing and starts in with her howl, she does so on the
phrase “And the phoenix, she rises.” So forgive me for making the
mistake of confusing a singer with the subject of her song, but at the
end of this record it’s obvious that rising is just what this new
permutation of Hole is doing.

But rising doesn’t necessarily mean at its peak.

Nobody’s Daughter isn’t
Live Through This. This album is mellower and more mature—it’s
on half a Valium instead of a nose-full of God knows what—and is
produced (nine songs by Michael Beinhorn, two by Linda Perry) with a
sheen not unlike 1998’s Celebrity Skin; the song “Pacific Coast
Highway” even apes the music from that album’s “Boys On The Radio.”

The album’s first
single, “Skinny Little Bitch,” is heavier than it should be—it sounds
like a slick L7 song—but has grown on me. Once a listener gets beyond
the oddity of the often-emaciated and famously unpleasant Love railing
against the titular character (supposedly herself during one of her
druggier periods) and overcomes the nu-metal arrangement, the song is
catchy enough but not indicative of what the band is capable of. Much
better is “Samantha,” which snarls and spits without betraying Love’s
lyric-writing talent and culminates in an explicative-laden sing-a-long
that begs to be blasted over the protests of stupid parents.

The middle of the album
sags just a bit under ornate, measured songs like “Someone Else’s Bed”
and “Letter To God,” but gets, um, a shot in the arm from “Loser Dust”
which lays off the acoustic guitar for a bit and actually rocks; think

“She Walks On Me” for a
21st-century Courtney.

Before we come to “Never Go Hungry Again,” we get “How Dirty
Girls Get Clean,” one of four songs co-written with Perry (and one of
two with Billy Corgan), and one long rumored to be the album’s title
track. Now in the final stretch of the record, the band doesn’t bother
to put its teeth away and tears through the song, which sounds like Hole
from an earlier era, with crashing guitars and a looser, throatier
voice guiding it.

something unpleasant about seeing and, even more so, hearing rock idols
grow old. With this record, though, Courtney Love and Hole prove that
sometimes there’s a choice other than burning out or fading away.