Queen of the jungle
Some things we take for granted: water, sunshine and Sonic Youth. It has been eight years since the group disbanded after a trajectory that lasted thirty years; the emotional wounds that bassist and group lead singer Kim Gordon suffered during the band’s disintegration, and subsequent divorce from band member and co-founder Thurston Moore, have healed ferociously. Kim Gordon shows her scars with pride in her first solo record, No Home Record, an album that unleashes a cultural icon into a wild habitat of soundscapes both new and already conquered.
Her exploration begins in earnest right away with “Sketch Artist,” the album’s opening track. The song is an electro-heavy preface that is similar to the noise-pop/art rock of groups like Xiu Xiu. The tune is quite modern and feels uncharacteristic of Gordon. However, the song does have a rebellious feel to it, a sort of “I don’t care what you think, let me explore” vibe. The second track, “Air BnB,” slowly comes to life as a deep bass creeps, electric guitars screech and a trashing drum rhythm accompanies Kim’s more recognizable vocal delivery. By the time “Murdered Out” slithers in with its sinister bassline and Gordon’s reverb-greased vocals you understand that a place of comfort has been reached, a dark cave within the sonic jungle she calls home.
The early contrasts in the record are indicative of the artistic balance Gordon has reached: the life-long artist embraces her past and present, both personally and artistically, and is delightfully unapologetic about it. The album’s fifth track “Don’t Play” mixes noise rock with a club-like beat that serves the raving vocals of Gordon well as she sings “Golden vanity/ you can pee in the ocean, it’s free, it’s free.” Abstract poetry is nothing new to Kim Gordon but the beats to which she recites the lyrics are, arguably these trance-like beats take the rock edge out and create opaque spots within her sonic habitat where luscious rock ‘n’ roll should grow.
“Hungry Baby” is a trashing noise-rock track that reminds the listener that there is only one queen of the genre, and that is Gordon. The album alternates between noise rock and other elements throughout and simmers up a realization in the mind of the listener even before the final track: “I’m lost.” Much as if one were to go and explore a crazed jungle habitat, without a compass, or an idea where in or out is, a sense of confusion and concern would follow. The album is an experiment of sorts, a record that is very much of Kim’s, with the only problem being that it does not belong to the fans in many ways.
Followers of Kim Gordon will be thrilled to know that there are places within the record where they can rest their heads and rejoice in the stylings of an American icon, but they may find their stay lacking direction, and can soon be immersed and mislaid in a world that was not meant for them.