Just the other day, my esteemed friend Zac said: “I dare you to review the new Hole album.”
Well, to quote Patton Oswalt, “I’m drunk. Here we go.”
The marketing ploy here can’t be more clear: Courtney Love is the biggest train wreck this side of Amy Winehouse, so why not see how much Schadenfreude you can wring out of Nobody’s Daughter? That is, if you feel like tossing some disposable income at it and supporting Ms. Love’s rather extensive drug habit. There’s no reason to listen to Hole for the music at this point because both of Hole’s diehard fans have moved on to Evanescence or Paramore or some other shitty, screamy chick band (lest I be accused of being sexist, here is an unimpeachably awesome screamy chick band: Sleater-Kinney).
Now then: if you’re a Hole fan (and not visiting us in your time machine from 1994), your favorite Hole album is probably either the one that Kurt Cobain wrote (Live Through This) or the one that Billy Corgan wrote (Celebrity Skin). Nobody’s Daughter might confuse you because Love kinda mostly wrote it herself with some help from Linda Perry, whom you might know from 4 Non Blondes.
Nobody’s Daughter boasts predictable song titles, invoking Southern California, God, and curse words (Courtney Love is a strong woman because she knows how to cuss. Or something). The music is like a tour bus crash of every shitty 90s band ever. Seriously, think Goo Goo Dolls meets Veruca Salt (Veruca Salt, by the way, was totally unnecessary: we already had the Breeders, thank you very much) or, well, Hole.
And the lyrics? Well, let’s talk about the lyrics for a second. The title track, which opens the album, is littered with references to drowning, being damaged, and how nobody understands “how damaged we really are.” I understand how damaged you are, Courtney. Try rehab.
Then there’s “Skinny Little Bitch,” which is also about how tough Courtney Love is. It occurs to me that this amount of ego is generally reserved for shitty gangsta rappers (looking at you, 50 Cent). Love sing/screams, “you would be/ oh so dumb to fuck with me,” but it doesn’t come off as all that intimidating because we all already know that if you fuck with Courtney Love (whatever constitutes fucking with a drug-addled fame whore), the worst that will happen is that you’ll be the subject of an incoherent Twitter post or twelve. “Skinny Little Bitch” also loses points for being a Garbage ripoff. But it speeds up at the end so Love can scream the title over and over again. You know what? Courtney Love has never really had a good singing voice.
The next song is called “Honey.” It’s kinda ballady. Sounds like a bad Oasis tune (i.e., one that isn’t on What’s the Story, Morning Glory?) This song could potentially be about Love’s dead husband (a singer of some repute, though his name eludes me at the moment). She screams about holding on to him “with all the life that’s in me” over strummed acoustic guitars and drums that don’t matter at all (seriously, rock ballad drumming is the most boring shit in the world, isn’t it? It’s so predictable. No snares or kick drum during the verse, lots of cymbal crashes into the chorus, and then, as the song reaches a crescendo, you bring the snares and bass drum in, right up until the part where everything but the voice and guitar sing the Really Meaningful Part of the song, which may or may not be followed with a boring drum fill and more chorus).
“Pacific Coast Highway” is next. It doesn’t sound that different from the last song. More references to death and drowning and being wounded and not knowing what to do. The title refers to a highway near where I am right now, but there’s no real reason for her to be talking about that specific highway. She could be on any highway in this song and it would still suck.
“Samantha” is the name of the next song and I’m going to pretend it’s about Tony Danza’s kid on Who’s the Boss?. Instead of drowning metaphors, “Samantha” has a war theme. The instrumentation is so unvaried on Nobody’s Daughter that I’m starting to think that Love just cut one instrumental track and just sang different lyrics over it. She sings, “people like you/ fuck people like me” and it, like the rest of this album, is just so-much puffed up angst at the world in general. A note, here, if I can, about what I call the Fuck You Song: a good Fuck You Song should always make you wonder about whom it was written. I point you to Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” or most of Pulp/Jarvis Cocker’s best stuff. On Nobody’s Daugther, Love is taking aim at… well, everybody or nobody. It literally doesn’t matter because every song is really about Courtney Love and how damaged/fucked up/victimized she is. Emo bands do this with more conviction, Courtney, and you’re like 45 fucking years old. Grow up.
At this point, I’ve taken a break from Nobody’s Daughter to listen to “Rock Problems” from the new Hold Steady record. This is a good song.
Okay, back to Nobody’s Daughter.
This song is called “Someone Else’s Bed.” Love is doing a bad Stevie Nicks impersonation on this song and I have an overwhelming urge to listen to the Smashing Pumpkins cover of “Landslide”. On “Someone Else’s Bed,” Love asks, “How did we all end up dead?” and then sings about Sunday morning and rain. Does she have a little black book of rock ‘n’ roll cliches or something? This is awful. There’s something in this song about “wanting to watch the view,” and I’ve got to admit that I’d rather watch Whoopi Goldberg argue with an ignorant blonde Republican than listen to more of this crap.
Since I’m drinking through – er, listening to – this album a track at a time, I’m going to break here and tell you how bad the rest of Nobody’s Daughter is in Part 2. So far, though, on the shittiness scale, this new Hole album is landing somewhere between Chris Cornell’s Scream and Metallica’s Death Magnetic.