Virgin - 2004 - 47 minutes
That people are still interested in Courtney Love's musical career, ten years after her one great album, is proof of just how compelling an artist she can be and how well oiled she keeps the media machine. It seems we've been hearing about this comeback - or a variation of it - forever (remember the planned all-girl group Bastard?). Now that 'America's Sweetheart' has arrived, you find out you were right all along and that it could never rise above all the drama that got in the way.
At times ('Mono', 'Sunset Strip') Love sounds like she still has it while at others the album has the same effect as seeing a mature woman wearing her teenage daughter's clothes. Even with gems like 'I see Paris/I see France/ I can see your underpants' and 'Why did the chicken cross the road/To get away from that Zeppelin song', Love remains a compelling and controversial lyricist, but the years have not been kind to her voice. Often the rasp and dragged-out delivery becomes annoying and her attempts to reposition herself closer to Stevie Nicks on 'Uncool' and 'Never Gonna Be the Same' doesn't work.
What will cause many to smile wryly is that on this album Love has done things that she would've derided others for doing some years ago. She has worked with Pink and Christina Aguilera writer Linda Perry (once of 4 Non-Blondes). Love has also wrapped the songs in a production that men who wore more make-up than her pioneered in the 80s. And 'All the Drugs' is so grunge-by-numbers that 1,000 former guitarists who now hold down day jobs will re-convince themselves that they could've been contenders. For a person who needs to be seen as a risk-taking artist, 'America's Sweetheart' is about as safe as it gets.
This is an album that has no problem with its commercial desires, figuring out who'll buy it, however, is a tough one. 16-year-old girls have too many choices while anyone over 25 has too many better memories and The Distillers' album to help bring them back. "I've climbed so high/I've got no place left to climb" sings Love on 'Sunset Strip'. Of course, she will be remembered for many things; you can say with just as much certainty that this won't be one of them.
Tracklisting: Mono - But Julian, I'm a Little Bit Older Than You - Hold on to Me - Sunset Strip - All the Drugs - Almost Golden - I'll Do Anything - Uncool - Life Despite God - Hello - Zeppelin Song - Never Gonna Be the Same