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Celebrity Skin

Release Date: 09.08.98
Record label: Uni / Geffen / DGC
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


A Walking Study in Demonology
by: bill aicher

And you thought grunge rock was dead.  Boy were you wrong.  Hole's new album marks the final stages of grunge rock, for this female-based grunge rock band of years past continues with the power of rock.  Although they do cling to their grunge roots, Hole is starting to shy away from the genre as well.  The new alubm contains trips back to the early 90s - when grunge reigned supreme, but also takes a step forward for Hole to keep the album up-to-date.

Celebrity Skin is Hole's third full-length album.  It is their follow-up to what was their breakthrough album, Live Through This (with songs such as "Doll Parts" and "Violet").   Lead singer, Courtney Love, has lived through quite a bit in her time, such as sex, drugs, death, career change, and rock 'n' roll's ups and downs.   The songs on this album reflect the changes Love has seen.  She has dealt with the death of former husband Kurt Cobain, and raised their child, Frances Bean.  She has also ventured into the movie world with films such as The People vs. Larry Flint.  

Despite the tremendous amount of pressure and change Love has dealt with, her music has only progressed.  Perhaps it is due to these pressures and the music is used as a vent - whatever the reason, the music is excellent.  Hole has kept the power-crunch of grunge rock, but given it a more melodic feeling.  This may not show through on their title track (the first single) - but it is definitely evident on other tracks.  Songs such as "Northern Star" are almost the opposite, with powerful rock vocals by Love conjoined with acoustic guitar and a march-beat drum in the background (snares and all).  "Boys on the Road" also showcases the acoustic guitar with a pop-drum beat.  The song's sound is highly remiscent of earlier music by the Lemonheads, but with a female lead singer.

Hole has definitely transcended many musical styles with this album.  And guess, what - it works.   Courtney Love speaks of this album as containing "... the last grunge song ever."  She just may be right.  I thought the genre had died completely from the mainstream, but Hole has managed to pull it off, by updating the sound slightly and including a mixture of other styles as well.  The acoustic guitars changing into the power guitar is the excellent companion to Love's harsh voice.  The album may be more "pop" than their previous offerings (sounding close to Liz Phair in parts, especially early on "Heaven Tonight") but hey, everyone needs to make some money.  I guess Love has to wear her Celebrity Skin while it still fits.