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KIM GORDON No Home Record gets 8/10


Kim Gordon
No Home Record
Matador/Remote Control

8/10

Alternative rock legend Kim Gordon steps out into the spotlight for, remarkably, her first solo album in a nearly 40 year career. It’s been a journey for Gordon, who grew up in California before relocating to New York City. There she formed Sonic Youth with partner and guitarist/singer Thurston Moore in 1981, until their demise in the 2010s (both the couple and the band).

Gordon has been an uncompromising artist throughout her career, a hero to Riot Grrrls and an inspiration to women eager to express themselves in a male-dominated indie rock scene. Gordon has led by example, with her usually spoken-word delivery taking no prisoners for calling out the stupidity of modern life, from the silliness of math rock by boys to the perpetual and tiresome evaluation of the appearance of women in the media.

Since Sonic Youth split, she’s done several noisy albums with Bill Nace as the duo Body/Head, among other appearances, including some acting roles in films since moving back to LA.

No Home Record plays to Gordon’s strengths, including distorted driving punk songs, but also more out there abstract pieces. As with Sonic Youth, it’s the combination of both of these elements that make the music work: pushing the abstract and artistic side but making it rock, or – the ethos of bringing the art but might as well make it fun whether you’re stroking your chin in the gallery or pogoing in the mosh pit.

After the opening salvo of Sketch Artist, with its shotgun snares and blasts of noise, single AirBnB gets things decidedly rocking. It channels the swing and grit of Goo’s Kool Thing, with a piss-take of all those nice things that come with staying in an AirBnB, including the possibility that it could “set you free” (hey, it rhymes). Hungry Baby is another pacy number, a rollicking vamp with the narrator sounding like a record executive creep chatting up a young female musician.

Bruising rocker Murdered Out begins with a heavy bassline and Gordon’s warbling screams and moans. The simple drum machine patterns leave plenty of space for the multiple squealing guitar lines deep in the mix, while she delivers commentary on the new-found trend of black matte paint and tinted window on hotted-up cars, the opposite of shiny new things in consumer culture, yet still bringing a feeling of anonymous menace.

Although Gordon is comfortable with more rocking styles, the most original songs on No Home Record are the more abstract and abrasive ones. Especially striking are the extremes of fuzzed-out sub-aquatic bass that feature on tracks like Don’t Play It Back where the bass swings wildly around like an untethered boom on a boat in a storm. Here Gordon sings “Where are my cigarettes/ those aren’t my brand; mistakes are made/ mistakes outweighed/ do they even go away?” This is possibly a reference to Thurston Moore’s infidelity as relayed in her autobiography Girl In A Band. Gordon had noticed Moore had changed his brand of cigarettes to the woman he was having an affair with at the time.

Standout track Cookie Butter is driven by an impossibly low and powerful electronic bass line and some click-clacking drums in the distance. The lyrics are delivered in short phrases of two or three words, creating an incredibly dramatic dark tone poem. Twin overdriven guitars weave and entangle for the last part of the song, a delicious celebration of sinewy feedback over the steady rhythm. Fantastic.

Overall, Gordon sounds like she’s having a heap of fun on No Home Record, an album where she can bounce around between the many styles she’s been comfortable with throughout her career, but also pushing things that much further with the adoption of electronics and drum machines. No Home Record will definitely be a hit for Sonic Youth and Kim Gordon fans, and is another highlight in her much-decorated musical career.

PAUL DOUGHTY

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