The Sex Pistols’ manager, the late Malcolm McLaren, once famously described the band’s pathologically troubled bassist Sid Vicious as “a fabulous disaster.” That description also fits Courtney Love, whose careening and well-documented personal and professional misfortunes have often spiraled into a virtual cyclone of dysfunction over the past decade and a half. Love’s erratic history of almost calculated miscalculation may be the reason Nobody’s Daughter is such an unexpected pleasure. She started recording it five years ago as a solo album. At some point she decided to revive Hole, although original band members Eric Erlandson and Melissa Auf der Maur weren’t involved in the recording. Setting aside the usual Love controversies, Nobody’s Daughter surprises on a variety of levels; her substance-coated voice has gone from raspy to ragged, like a grunge version of Marianne Faithfull, effectively translating the pain, horror, and weary wisdom she’s accumulated over the years. “Skinny Little Bitch” is a raucous grunge/alt-rock workout, with Love’s snarled/screamed lyrics applicable as both inward reflection and outward indictment. And she’s rarely sounded as reflective or sensitive as she does in “Pacific Coast Highway” and the achingly analytical “For Once in Your Life.” Here’s hoping that Love finds some measure of redemption with Nobody’s Daughter and uses it to move forward rather than backslide into familiar destructive behavior. —Brian Baker
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