MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
Courtney Love, widow of the late Kurt Cobain and lead singer of her own band, Hole, is out with a new album. It's called "Nobody's Daughter." At the same time, a young British pop star named Kate Nash has released her second CD. And our critic Will Hermes sees some similarities between the two.
(Soundbite of song, "Miss World")
Ms. COURTNEY LOVE (Lead Singer, Hole): (Singing) I'm miss world, somebody kill me...
WILL HERMES: Ever since the awesome 1994 album "Live Through This," it's been hard to hear the music of Courtney Love or - excuse me, Courtney Michelle, as she'd prefer to be called now - over the tabloid noise of her personal life. And even when you could, the music hasn't measured up.
Now, she's re-formed Hole with an entirely new lineup and made a record that - OK, I know what you're thinking and no, actually, it doesn't suck.
(Soundbite of song, "Samantha")
Ms. LOVE: (Singing) Samantha, you swore, you never turned that trick before. Keep waiting for a war, you'll never win, you'll lose again. Watch her wrap her legs around this world. Can't take that gutter from the girl. Samantha...
HERMES: That song, "Samantha," which ends with an unbroadcastable string of F-bombs, is the album's best rocker. But Courtney's voice seems pretty blown out, and the record's most powerful moments are ballads, which show a ravaged woman who, to paraphrase an old Hole song, is lying in the bed that she's made, and often addressing an absent lover.
(Soundbite of song, "Pacific Coast Highway")
Ms. LOVE: (Singing) I knew a boy, he came from the sea. He was the only boy who ever knew the truth about me. I'm overwhelmed and undersexed. Oh, baby, what did you expect? I'm overwrought and so disgraced. I'm too ashamed to show my face.
HERMES: Kate Nash also has a new record that makes me think about Courtney Love and the way she expresses desire with the same train wreck messiness as The Dudes. Nash is from England. And when Hole's "Live Through This" was released, she was 6 years old.
(Soundbite of song, "I Just Love You More")
Ms. NASH (Singer): (Singing) I just love you more. I just love you more than anything.
HERMES: Kate Nash's 2007 debut hit number one on the British charts and her latest, called "My Best Friend is You," shows a 22-year-old who sees no reason why a pop star shouldn't make records full of screaming, cursing, social outrage and sexual confusion, along with a catchy tune.
(Soundbite of song, "Take Me to a Higher Plane")
Ms. NASH: (Singing) I feel worried that my brain is just a fool in your sick game, so I will never open my heart.
HERMES: It sometimes sounds more like a multi-artist shuffle mix than an album. But it's impressive. And it walks a road paved by artists like Patti Smith and Courtney Love who similarly, saw no reason the feminine couldn't be expressed with as much raw power and aggression as masculine.
(Soundbite of music)
Ms. NASH: (Singing) (Unintelligible)
SIEGEL: Our critic is Will Hermes. He reviewed "Nobody's Daughter," by Hole; and "My Best Friend is You," by Kate Nash.
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