Kim Gordon has been busy.
Sure, this record might be her official debut solo album, but just look at what she’s achieved since Sonic Youth split back in 2011: a phenomenal book; music with the searing Body/Head project; appearances in cinema alongside Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill, as well as pursuing her interests in fashion and design.
Despite all this, though, ‘No Home Record’ remains feverishly anticipated. Having co-founded one of the most influential guitar groups in American history, there’s a certain weight to her name, one that conjures an expectation of excellence.
Undoubtedly, ‘No Home Record’ succeeds on all fronts. Caustic, corrosive, always-inspired noises that link to her previous work in Sonic Youth while confidently asserting an identity of their own, it’s a bold, subversive, constantly thrilling cavalcade of new ideas, driven by an unrelenting future-facing force.
Puncturing the claustrophobia that lingers under the glittering veneer of 2019 modernity, ‘Air BnB’ offers a kin of Lydia Lunch performance to infest the WeWork generation, all clattering post-punk and searing No Wave. ‘Paprika Pony’ meanwhile opens with chittering electronics, somehow recalling trop-pop but given a sombre, intensely slow death march. Ominous but billowing with colour, she murmurs: “I’m knocked out, still…”
‘Murdered Out’ offers a kind of synthetic future punk, conjuring visions of a Blade Runner style sci-fi dystopian landscape with its scorched aural paintings. ‘Don’t Play It’ though is a kind of ultra-minimalist heavyweight industrial track, with Kim Gordon’s chanting vocals at once primitive and post-apocalyptic.
But this isn’t an electronic record. ‘Hungry Baby’ is a yelping rockabilly stomp a la The Cramps, Kim Gordon’s passionate vocal spitting against the spectre of sexual harassment. ‘Earthquake’ meanwhile, is far more restrained, but conversely it’s one of the record’s most open lyrics, a song of loss and longing: “If I could cry and shake / I’d lay awake / For you…”
Ending with the potent, pointed ‘Get Yr Life Back’, Kim Gordon swaps corrosive noise for murmured intensity, her vocals half-stumbling amidst bulging feedback. It’s a song about the collapse of a political and economic system, about the LA veneer finally cracking, and the world seeing what’s underneath.
A record fascinated by destruction and renewal, ‘No Home Record’ looks resolutely to the future, embracing what is possible, rather than what is safe. It’s a record that makes incisions into the staid, one that knocks over the steadfast; it’s a bold, thrilling construction, one that pushes her history to one side in order to build anew.
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