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Album Review

Love hurts, and that’s good for Hole

April 26, 2010

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Here is Courtney Love just the way we like to imagine her: shattered, drugged, infected with some unnameable disease and crawling on the ground to dig her own grave. And that’s just to paraphrase the title song and opening track on “Nobody’s Daughter,’’ Hole’s fourth album. The band name is a misnomer; Love is the only original member still in the lineup. But the once-potent rocker has launched a campaign to renounce the tabloid sensation she’s become, and in that light “Nobody’s Daughter’’ is a valiant stab at reclaiming her former glory as a musical force of nature.

The songs are brawny and well-made, many with help from Billy Corgan and Linda Perry, and they chug along efficiently, gesturing toward grunge and polished like pop tunes. Love’s voice is, for all intents and purposes, destroyed, but she gives it her all even when there’s not much to offer. So do the junkies and sluts in “Skinny Little Bitch’’ and “Honey’’ and “Samantha’’ and “Loser Dust.’’ Love’s lyrics are riveting in the same sad way her life is, but her lack of filters goes down easier in a song, even when it reads like a page torn from a 12th-grade journal. “I never wanted to be/The person that you see/Can you tell me who I am?’’ she asks in “Letter to God.’’

“Nobody’s Daughter’’ probably won’t restore Love’s credibility as a rock musician — her moment has passed — but unlike so many of her peers she’s still weirdly, thrillingly believable.

JOAN ANDERMAN

ESSENTIAL “Samantha’’