The Hole behind the looking glass
By Ann Marlowe
Wednesday, September 30, 1998 – 12:00 am
Truth, beautiful, innocence, stars, summer, rain, love, candy, heaven, sleep, dying, frozen, cold, cynical, angels, petals, wilted: These are the key words, some expected, some not, that punctuate the long poem of Celebrity Skin. Despite the silly static “glamour” of the cover, which does Courtney Love’s real charisma and originality a disservice, despite the strings that make me cringe on a few numbers, and even despite Billy Corgan, it is an artistic event. Not that Hole breaks new ground musically, not that the lyrics by themselves stand up any more consistently than you’d expect from even the best rock songwriters. But sung, melded into the peaks and sloughs of the often too lush music, Courtney Love’s words have the thrill and provocation of good poetry on the page.
Hole’s last album, 1994′s Live Through This, was a cultural event, though maybe you didn’t notice unless you were female, whitish and middle-class. Mouthy, slutty, drug-addicted, covetous of fame, Courtney Love said what other women dared not, what even Patti Smith and Madonna, with their enlistment in the cults of femininity and maternity, dared not. The personas she created confessed their dark hearts, evil desires, irresponsibility: “I don’t do the dishes/I throw them in the crib” (“Plump”). She embraced the madness that got her and Kurt’s idol Frances Farmer committed, that made the witches burn. (more…)