Who is Courtney Love? Celebrity opportunist, female punk-rocker
or washed-up celebrity? All of the above? It’s impossible to
review Love’s music without reviewing her, since her image is
so entangled with her sound. That leaves two choices: to hate her
or tolerate her with a grimace. America’s Sweetheart
comes across as a lost cause. Conceptually it’s part
Celebrity Skin, supposedly exposing the predatory nature of
Hollywood but it has little of that album’s intensity.

Beth Dykstra
Sucky sucky, five dolla. (Courtesy of Virgin)

She employs Pink and Christina Aguilera’s songwriter,
Linda Perry, as her co-writer — a far cry from her previous
relationships with Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan. With Elton
John’s lyricist in tow, it’s hard to tell if
she’s aiming for Avril Lavigne’s fanbase or giving a
history lesson.

The lead single, “Mono,” is typical Love —
self-important and melodramatic. She’s not saving rock. Much
of the album seems as clunky and lost as the single. It’s
hard to tell what she’s singing about, or to whom. As part of
the bleak alt-rock movement of the mid ’90s, it’s sad
to hear her sing “I see London / I see France / I can see
your underpants.”

Love’s aiming for an audience shift in the vein of Liz
Phair or Jewel, so the song about a boyfriend who can’t stop
playing Led Zeppelin is misguided. No 14-year-old mall girl gets
that. Too often the album is desperate and panders.

Often when artists attempt crossovers they alienate their
fanbase as well as failing to attract new fans. This is no
exception. The title, America’s Sweetheart, is a wink
at her past as she tries to repackage herself. Everyone would be
much happier with a Nirvana box set.

 

Rating:  1.5 out of 5 stars

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