Album Reviews

Kim Gordon – The Collective

(Matador) UK release date: 8 March 2024

An astonishing work that’s at least as good (if not better) than some of the albums with which she made her fame and fortune

Kim Gordon - The Collective Kim Gordon‘s second solo album, The Collective, continues her legacy of sonic innovation and artistic fearlessness, building upon the groundbreaking work she was a part of in her previous artistic life, while offering a thought-provoking exploration of contemporary themes, solidifying her position as a pioneering force in alternative music. For casual onlookers who’ve ended up here by accident: it’s at least as good (if not better) than some of the albums with which she made her fame and fortune – and those include Sonic Youth‘s Daydream Nation and Sister.

Her previous solo album, 2019’s No Home Record, was fantastic. At once both relentlessly modern and essentially timeless, it managed to combine influences from musicians at least three or four generations younger than Gordon herself with her own fearless creative impulses, resulting in something quite astounding.

The Collective takes the successes of that album and blows them all to hell. It’s better on an exponential scale, as though she woke up one morning and realised that she’s one of the most iconic female musicians in the history of recorded music. And she really is. BYE BYE, the song that accompanied the announcement of the album, is one of the very best songs Gordon has ever released. It stands proudly next to Swimsuit Issue, Bull In The Heather, Dude Ranch Nurse and the like as being truly indicative of the magnetic quality of Gordon’s voice. It’s literally a shopping list/travel reminder list set to a really oppressive, aggressive trap-metal that’s more Playboi Carti than you might expect (apparently producer Justin Raisen actually intended it for Carti, but thought it was too challenging, so it became a natural fit for Kim).

The Candy House continues in the same vein, but dials down the industrial metal guitar attack and replaces it with an even more sinister sense of space – there are moments that Gordon seems to be possessed by the ghost of Suicide‘s Alan Vega in between bursts of mumble-rapping. If that sentence makes sense, you can surely see how immense the album sounds after only two songs.  I Don’t Miss My Mind takes Gordon close to Trent Reznor’s wheelhouse, with a blown out, pure animal industrial groove overlaid with sheets of pixelated guitars. I’m A Man is horrifying in its intensity, an unrelenting assault on your aural safe space.

Psychedelic Orgasm attempts to conjure just that, but it would only be successful if you get off to car crashes and electric shocks. To put it plainly – it’s another challenging listen, bit strangely one of the more accessible (read: calmer) songs on the entire album. Of course that’s followed up by the absolutely devastating Tree House, which reaches Sunn O))) levels of sheer sonic terror. Shelf Warmer offers a little respite (relatively, of course), but then The Believers comes in like a post-apocalyptic transmission from a planet of murderous Kevin Shields clones. Dream Dollar drains any spiritual resolve you have left in a labyrinth of processed beats and mind-bending sonic mania.

This is an astonishing album. It makes precisely zero sense, too – after decades of iconoclasm and groundbreaking artistry, Kim Gordon should not be able to conjure this level of raw power. It should be too late in the game. It should be that she’s eyeing the comfort of retirement. But then it is Kim fucking Gordon, and since when have any kind of reasonable expectations applied to her?

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More on Kim Gordon
Kim Gordon – The Collective
Kim Gordon – No Home Record