Album Reviews

Courtney Love – America’s Sweetheart

UK release date: 9 February 2004

Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart Except for a couple of notable newspapers, readers will have been advised what a pretentious, heartless, so-so, post-grunge punk product this is. A word of advice: this is gravely misleading.

America’s Sweetheart is a good album. I’m tempted to say fantastic because that’s the feeling you get once you’ve gotten to know it a bit better. As you load the CD into the tray, be warmed by the thought that opener Mono will pound you with energy and excavate the loose cannoned snarl of Courtney Love, or think of the menacing punk ode to The StrokesJulian Casablancas (But Julian, I’m a Little Older Than You), where Courtney would rather meet him “in the bedroom” than the bathroom.

The sincere Hold On To Me tugs gently, as waves of the’90s wash up in frayed guitar echoes. This could easily have been a Pixies or Hole anthem except it describes Courtney still clearly haunted by Kurt Cobain: “This life is never fair / He comes to me / In the dead of winter / In the dead of night/ He’s all that I can see / Hold on tome.”

Though much of the pathetic publicity pap we read has been self-induced, any of the red-top writers looking for an easy story for their trashy celeb supplements might do well to listen to this song. The lyrics are incredibly painful as Love wallows: “We all get our glory / A little bit of fame / But there’s no truth at the heart of any of it / Just the brilliance and the passion and the bitterness remain.” Though how the line, “I’m the centre of the universe,” fits into this defeats me. Still, Love still manages to turn depressed lyrics into feel-good therapeutic release, which leads perfectly into the tinged radio-rock of Sunset Strip.

Just as the album appears to peter into middle-aged psychoanalysis, out slams All The Drugs. The riff is classic and simple, a bastard of grunge and nu-rock, proving that while knocking on the age of 40, Ms Love still has it.

After Almost Golden, I’ll Do Anything pops up. You’ll have to ask Courtney about this one. First off, it’s Smells Like Teen Spirit unashamedly, even down to replicating feedback and the fade away. And with lines like, “Give me white boy skinny / Give me big black man / Give medick / Give me speed,” one suddenly does warm to the “f**k up” slurs thrown Love’s way.

Sombre yet sleazy, Life Without God is dirty bar room rock. We’re talking about Courtney on the bar, bra straps slipped to her shoulders, knickers round her ankles, dripping whisky from her mouth. Every garage rock act with a “The” moniker is made irrelevant. This is garage rock. And nobody does it better than Courtney, even if at one point she seems to be pigging on a Dime bar.

Many doubted America’s Sweetheart would see the light of the day. Admittedly some parts are wishy washy, and whatever Courtney is on has wandered onto the album for some few, and thankfully, far between moments. However, hopefully this will get her together and give her something to focus on. Rock doesn’t need another tragic, self-destructing casualty.

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Courtney Love – America’s Sweetheart