Live Through This
I purchased my first Hole CD (Pretty On The Inside) almost a year ago. Before then I had only known Hole because of the Nirvana connection and had only referred to them as ‘Kurt Cobain’s wife’s band’. However upon purchasing Pretty On The Inside I grew quite attached to them. Even though the lyrics were bland and the musicianship was mediocre at best I still couldn’t help liking them. There was a raw energy surrounding their music and for me that made Pretty On The Inside worthwhile although I felt that Hole hadn’t yet lived up to their potential.
About five months later I bought Celebrity Skin. Again it was a worthwhile album but yet still I thought that it just wasn’t the best that Hole could do. The songwriting and lyrics had improved vastly and the musicianship was much better but unfortunately it lacked the raw angst and energy that I had loved from Pretty On The Inside and ended up sounding just like pretty much any decent mainstream pop/rock band.
Then finally I got Live Through This (which I had heard was the strongest Hole album), I loved it straight away. It had the raw angst of Pretty On The Inside mixed in with well crafted pop songs like on Celebrity Skin. It was basically the best of both worlds.
Hole (at the time were):
- Eric Erlandson – Guitars
- Kristen Pfaff – Bass, Piano & Backing Vocals
- Courtney Love – Lead Vocals & Guitars
- Patty Schemel – Drums
1) Violet (3:24) – The album kicks off with Violet which pretty much sets the mood for the album with it’s sudden changes from quiet to heavy , its bare power chords and raw female angst. The chorus of this song is probably the catchiest off the album with Courtney Love screaming “Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to!” over and over, almost like a battle chant. At around 2:40 there is a short grungy breakdown before exploding back into the chorus again which is then repeated four times until the end, growing in intensity each time. Overall this is probably the best song on the album and one of Hole’s greatest achievements. 5/5
2) Miss World (3:00) – Starting with just an acoustic guitar and some strange lyrics like “I am the girl you know so sick I can not try”, it quickly changes to a more rocky tune with Courtney singing “I’m miss world, somebody kill me”. I actually have no idea what she’s been smoking but it’s catchy so I’ll let her off. Around 1:30 the song becomes heavy with distorted guitars coming in and Courtney screaming “I made my bed, I’ll die in it”. If you can get past the strange intro and the weird lyrics then this is actually a very good song. 4/5
3) Plump (2:34) – This is one of the more grunge influenced songs on the album. Starting with a simple distorted guitar riff the drums soon join in to make quite a grungy sound. After the first chorus, Courtney starts the second verse screaming “They say I’m plump, but I’m plump all the time”. At 1:15 the song slows down into a more poppy and quiet bridge before exploding back into the songs main riff (which is repeated countless times during the song). Overall another great song, not as strong as the previous two but it’s still a very good song. 3.5/5
4) Asking For It (3:29) – Here the album calms down into a slower more melodic song. Starting with some lightly strummed chords on the guitar, the drums and bass quickly join in to make a poppy yet somehow distant sound (quite like that of most songs on Celebrity Skin). After about forty seconds it goes into the chorus with Courtney softly singing “Was she asking for it? Was she asking nice? Well she was asking for it, did she ask you twice?” After this the second verse starts with a harder sound than the first verse (with Courtney starting to scream about half way through). After another chorus there is the bridge with the lyrics that gave the album its name, “If you live through this, I’ll die for you” (which for me subconsciously predicts Kurt’s suicide). After a short little acoustic guitar part the chorus is repeated until the end of the song. Overall a nice track to listen to and definitely shows variety to Hole’s songwriting. 3.5/5
5) Jennifer’s Body (3:41) – Starts with a simple guitar rhythm before the rest of the instruments join in for the verse, around 0:45 Courtney shows off her vocals as she half screams, half sings “Sleeping by myself!”, after this the chorus begins with the lyrics “The pieces of Jennifer’s body”. After another verse and chorus the song finishes with about thirty seconds of the start/stop formula that made grunge so famous and hit the mainstream (again the songwriting sounds quite similar to that of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’). Overall this is one of the better songs off the album and is a great listen. 4/5
6) Doll Parts (3:32) – This is the biggest single from the album and it is easy to see why. With its haunting acoustic guitar strumming and angst filled lyrics this is definitely an easy song to listen to. The only fault I can really find in the song is at the end of the first chorus when “Someday you will ache like I ache” is repeated countless times. The song finishes with the second chorus where the same line is repeated, except unlike the first chorus it gains intensity each time until Courtney is literally screaming the words. Again this is another song that seems to predict Kurt’s suicide which if anything just makes the song more haunting. 4.5/5
7) Credit In The Straight World (3:11) – This is the only song not written by Hole on the album (instead it was written by some random guy called Stuart Moxham) and it is also one of the weakest songs on the album. The song starts well with a haunting intro but around 0:35 this stops and the real song starts with a rather bland guitar riff before moving off into the regular verse/chorus formula. At around 2:20 a strange and dissonant sounding guitar solo comes in which is the only real highlight. Apart from that the song is fairly average with nothing really memorable. 2.5/5
8) Softer, Softest (3:27) – Starts straight away with Courtney singing quietly over an acoustic guitar with the drums tapping slightly on the high hat in the background. At around 0:30 the first chorus starts with Courtney singing “Pee girl gets the belt, only makes me cry”. According to Courtney this song was written about the girl in her class who smelt like pee (of which I’m guessing was Courtney herself). At 2:25 the song is suddenly joined by Eric’s roaring distorted guitars and Patty’s pounding drums as the song becomes heavier and Courtney screams the chorus over and over again until the end. Overall a nice quiet/heavy song but nothing that really makes it stand out against most other ballads in the same style, it is still worth a good listen though. 3/5
9) She Walks On Me (3:23) – After about 0:15 seconds of weird sounds from the guitar and quiet notes from the bass, a drum roll starts and the song instantly kicks into a fast punk/grunge song. Courtney then starts screaming “Geeks do not have pedigrees, or perfect punk-rock resumes, or anorexic magazines, it smells like girl, it smells like girl!” At 0:38 the chorus kicks in with Courtney simply singing “She walks over me, she walks over me”. After another verse and chorus a strange and rather bland bridge starts which doesn’t add to the song at all. After this its back into another verse and chorus before a strange breakdown in which the intro is repeated. The song ends with another verse and chorus and finishes rather abruptly. This is probably the fastest and most angst filled song on the album, although after a while it does get very repetitive. Overall a fairly average song. 2.5/5
10) I Think That I Would Die (3:36) – This song was co-written by Kat Bjelland of Babes In Toyland which straight away made me want to hear it. This is another album highlight, starting with just a simple acoustic guitar rhythm, the song quickly builds up into a powerful and haunting ballad (quite like Doll Parts). At 0:35 the first chorus starts with Courtney singing “Rose white, rose red, rose up in my head”, I can’t help but feel drawn in with these rather abstract lyrics and they are definitely some of the best on the album. At 2:15 the song slows down into a quiet bridge with Courtney whispering quietly over the acoustic guitar rhythm in the intro, suddenly Courtney screams “*** you!” before the song explodes into heaviness. Overall one of the better songs on the album and the Kat Bjelland songwriting styles definitely show (especially with the chorus’s lyrics). 4/5
11) Gutless (2:15) – Starts with a simple grungy guitar riff before the drums join in with Courtney singing “All my friends are embryonic, all my friends are dead and gone” (another line which seems to predict both Kurt’s and Kristen Pfaff’s deaths). At 0:38 the chorus starts with the lines “Gutless, your gutless”. After another verse and chorus there is a small bridge with a simple yet nice guitar solo before the song explodes back into the chorus. This track sounds more similar to the ones on Pretty On The Inside than it does with the rest of the songs on this album. Overall a great song to jump around to. 3.5/5
12) Rock Star (2:42) – Apparently when the album was first released this was a different song that included some lyrics insulting Nirvana so naturally after Kurt’s death the band decided to swap the song with another track previously called Olympia. However the record label couldn’t bother to change the track listings so the song title remained the same. Starting quietly with Courtney singing over an acoustic guitar, the other instruments quickly kick in to make quite a heavy punk sound. At 0:42 the chorus starts with Courtney screaming “Won’t you please make me real, *** you, make me sick, *** you”. After another verse and chorus the beat goes double time with Courtney wailing “Do it for the kids” over and over again. The last forty seconds of the song is just basically feedback from the amp with some whispering and muttering in the background. Overall a great way to finish the album. 4/5
There are lots of good things about the music on the album. The songwriting is great and has a good mix of grunge and pop. The instruments are played fairly well and have catchy riffs. The lyrics seem to have lots of angst but not so much that it gets annoying and all the songs sound very tight and rehearsed. Courtney’s voice actually sounds very good on the album; even though it is often slightly out of key and sounds strained it still adds to the music and fits in with the songs well.
A couple of the songs are rather bland and repetitive and some songs have bridges that dont add to the track at all but overall there arent many negative things about the album. The worst thing I can think of is the awful artwork which makes me cringe whenever I see it.
- Miss World
- Doll Parts
Many people believe that the only reason this album sold at all was because of the controversy surrounding it at the time. Kurt Cobain’s suicide around the release and bassist Kristen Pfaff’s drug overdose made Courtney Love seem like the grieving widow letting out her rage through her music (even though both died after the album was released). However when one actually listens to the power and energy the music produces these controversies disappear, the real reason that is album sold is that this is a very good album, it’s the best of both worlds with the angst and raw grunge/punk from Pretty On The Inside mixed with the well crafted pop songs from Celebrity Skin, this is truly an excellent album. In my opinion, the closest thing to a female ‘Nevermind’ ever made. 4/5
Rest In Peace:
- Kristen Pfaff
- Kurt Cobain