Courtney Would Love to Be Your Sweetheart
Courtney Love’s latest, America’s Sweetheart, is slightly behind the times in sound, though the irony and the artwork aren’t too far off. Posing as a fifties pin-up girl and calling herself the hilariously ironic sweetheart of our nation, it’s too bad the music isn’t as clever.At times the album is pop-punk, at others it’s punk rock. Sometimes it’s romantic, sometimes rebellious, but mostly unoriginal. It sounds like an album that would have been popular a few years ago, when cleaner-sounding punk rock was making the rounds. Today, it sounds dated. Almost as if she’s trying for a new niche, most of the raw, unpolished sound that made Love so popular with Hole is gone. Except, of course, for her trademark voice.
At times her voice sounds unrefined and hearfelt, and at other times you wonder why Love still hasn’t bothered to get voice lessons. It is especially noticeable contrasted with the polished punk, where she is clearly off-key (as are many of the harmonies).She sounds much better and more natural on the slower tracks, such as “Never Gonna Be The Same,” but when screaming, Love’s voice falls far short. It is a combination of the lethargic off-key tone of Bob Dylan and the scratchy quality of Janis Joplin, especially on the ear-splitting intro to the song “Life Despite God.”
Sweetheart or no, it sounds as if Love is chasing inspiration from the pop-punk sound better suited to five years ago, and chasing popularity among it’s late-blooming followers. The album may be charming to some (especially fans of emotional untrained vocals), and annoying to others. Overall, Love hasn’t yet found her new niche.