America's Sweetheart (Virgin)

Courtney Love 

America's Sweetheart (Virgin)

There is an infamous live performance in which ill-fated Sex Pistol Sid Vicious mutters and stumbles his way through an off-key version of Frank Sinatra's "My Way." The same aura of unraveling permeates Courtney Love's solo debut, the oft-delayed America's Sweetheart. Gone are Love's glossy vocals from Celebrity Skin and the snarling anguish of Hole's Live Through This. Instead there are shaky screeches that err on the unintelligible side of sloppy ("Almost Golden") or wobbling, half-asleep attempts at balladry ("Never Gonna Be the Same"). Love tries to buttress the album with contributions from Wayne Kramer, Kim Deal, Dio's Jerry Best and Hole bandmates Patty Schemel and Samantha Maloney. These cameos help manage Sweetheart's inspired moments on the shit-hot punk slasher "Mono," the California-breezy power chime on "Sunset Strip" and the chugging metal of "I'll Do Anything." And though Love has moments of lyrical flourish, her self-referential tales of debauchery and loss are constructed largely with the assistance of Linda Perry, songwriter to Pink and Christina Aguilera. With so many external forces propping up Sweetheart's mediocre music, it's difficult to figure out if the tales of pills and despair are Love's true confessions or a persona she perpetuates with the encouragement of her enablers.

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