Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart

Steven West 30/04/2004

Rating: 3/5

Courtney Love is back. She is a little older, and in theory a little wiser. However, recent tabloid headlines of her erratic behaviour suggest that she has certainly not mellowed. Her latest album, 'America's Sweetheart', seems to reflect this personal chaos. Courtney has lived her life in front of the media and she has made no attempt to hide herself in music. The album is clearly about one thing - Courtney Love. It covers her relationship with drugs, God and other musicians.

This diary-by-song is delivered through a roar of guitar noise. It does not represent a step change for Courtney musically, and it could easily be Hole's third album. The songs are and tuneful and at times poppy, 'Sunset Strip' immediately springs to mine. However, any suggestion that this due to the influence of Linda Perry (collaborator with both Pink and Christina Aguilera) has turned Courtney into a featureless pop princess are quickly dismissed by her vocal style.

The opening raw shriek of 'Hey' on track one 'Mono' is a warning as to how the album means to go on. The screeching-cum-singing is a little incessant at times and listening to it more than once in a row is enough to induce a headache. The collaboration with both Linda and Bernie Taupin (who has also worked with Elton John) is unsettling. Essentially because their influence is hard to detect, yet they are credited. So what did they do? You hope that they were used to smooth the edges of Courtney's thoughts and that they weren't used to present us with an image of Courtney that presses all the right buttons.

There are some great songs 'Mono' and 'I'll Do Anything', but the album leaves you at times unsatisfied. The lyrics tread a fine line between an ironic wink (the song title Julian, But I'm a Little Older Than you) and hackneyed punk references (lines such as 'Gabba, Gabba, Hey'). It is certainly worth a listen as both musically and lyrically it gives you a glimpse into the unsettled world of Courtney Love. But it is a world that has been lived so openly that it contains no real surprises. The album is a 45 minute cliché of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll and you hope there is more to Courtney Love than that.