Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Courtney Love: America's Sweetheart

According to Courtney Love's profile on Friendster.com (or, at least, the profile of the most legitimate-looking of the site's several Courtney Loves), the singer's interests include "retribution on secret assassins," "holding close my beautiful lion," and "rocking on a pure and cosmic level." Whether she succeeds at the first two is anyone's guess, but the pure and the cosmic elude her on America's Sweetheart, her first solo album and her first of any kind since Hole's 1998 release, Celebrity Skin. A slick, underrated show-business kiss-off, Skin allowed Love to click through her pet obsessions, growling catchily about image-making and crumbling stardom, but six years later, Love has nothing new to say and no better way to say it. On "Mono," she calls on God to give her one more song, and for Love, God apparently works through the pens of Pink, Christina Aguilera collaborator Linda Perry (who worked on most of America's Sweetheart), and Elton John partner Bernie Taupin (who contributes to one track). And in spite of all the shouting, loud guitars, and provocative lyrics, an air of professional politeness spoils the effect. When Love yowls to open "But Julian, I'm A Little Older Than You," it hits with the accuracy of a digital metronome. At least she sounds spirited when lusting after The Strokes' Julian Casablancas; when the subjects switch to fame, sex, rock 'n' roll, and, of course, drugs, she just sounds tired, and the music follows in kind. Love may have more of a right than anyone else to rip off the riff to "Smells Like Teen Spirit," as she does on "I'll Do Anything," but that doesn't mean she should. It's always a problem when an album's liner notes prove more interesting than its music. Alongside Cameron Crowe, "Mr. Cruise," and "JM Stipe," Love sends her regards to "Nicheren Shoshu, Kirsty [sic] Alley & the Church Of Scientology for helping me not allow myself to be a doormat." Shelly Long could never have pulled that one off.


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