America's Sweetheart Album reviews.
Release Date: 02.10.04
Record label: Virgin Records
An Aging Rock Star Who Should Never Have Been; or The Drugs Don't Work
by: bill aicher
Here's a fair assumption: Courtney Love never would have gotten a lick of attention had she not been Kurt Cobain's wife. After his death, Love became the focus of so much media attention (partially due to the rampant suggestion she played a key role in Cobain's demise) that Live Through This (coincidentally released exactly one week after Cobain's suicide) was virtually unavoidable in the early 90s alternative rock explosion. Many assumed that Cobain himself had a large part in the songwriting on this breakthrough - a fact that only aided in the propulsion of Live Through This's popularity.
In 1998 Hole resurfaced once again, this time with their Grammy-nominated Celebrity Skin. This time around, however, Hole's success was due much less to Love's musical talent as it was to the fact that at-that-time rock uber-idol Billy Corgan played a key role in the songwriting process, lending his hand to songs including the title track and the hit single "Malibu."
Still, throughout all this, Love remained in the media spotlight (or thought she was in the media spotlight) not so much for her music as for her reputation as a loud-mouthed, vulgar boozer who landed an occasional film role in Milos Forman's bio-pics. Hole eventually disbanded in May of 2002, to little fanfare. In the time since rumors floated of a solo album from frontwoman, Courtney Love - though after time it appeared the album would likely never see the light of day.
Unfortunately, Love's solo work finally did see the light of day as an album entitled America's Sweetheart, and the resulting work only further exemplifies that Love never was the rock star she thought she was - or at least that time has not been kind.
America's Sweetheart finds Love lost in her mid-90s musical nirvana - grungy, dirty, self-deprecating rock with an uber-glossy production. This production, however, does little to hide the fact that Love simply can't sing worth a damn. Amidst all her screaming and lyrical fumbling it's hard to discern much coherency here. Even production from Matt Serletic (Matchbox Twenty), songwriting help from ex -Four-Non-Blonde, Linda Perry (who also writes for Pink and Christina Aguilera) and Elton John songwriter, Bernie Taupin can't save this Titanic from it's inevitable shipwreck.
"But Julian, I'm a Little Bit Older Than You" finds Love trying to weasel her way into modern garage rock popularity with her direct come-ons directed toward The Strokes lead singer Julian Casablancas. The nastiness of this idea aside, it's an embarassing lyrical mess (and a blatant attempt at trying to sound hip for dropping Clash references) with lines like " I see Paris I see France / I can see your underpants / Yeah, I see Paris I see France / Yeah, I hear London calling."
And, if her lyrical fumbles and entrapment in the long dead 90s grunge sound isn't enough to turn you off, her singing definitely will. The years of drug abuse and smoking have definitely taken their toll on Love, as can be best noticed on the absolutely horrendous "Life Despite God." Here, Love sounds a bit like Lucinda Williams when she's in her drunken rock 'n' roll singer mode - only Love just sounds like a drunken, drugged up, washed up rocker.
Those who have eagerly awaited America's Sweetheart may find something redeeming tucked away somewhere inside.. but for those looking for some great chick-fronted rock 'n' roll, you'll have to stick with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O is a sexy hard-edged rocker... Courtney Love is just a nasty old bitch who can't rock worth a damn.
10-Feb-2004 11:15 PM