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Kim Gordon - No Home Record (Album Review)

Monday, 14 October 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Photo: Natalia Mantini

What are we to expect from a Kim Gordon solo album? Something that sounds like a reproduction of her old band, Sonic Youth? Unlikely. Pop songs? Same. ‘No Home Record’ is an intriguing answer, because it sounds like something Kim Gordon might make—surprising, unpredictable, difficult—but it’s been crafted from a palette that allows us to believe it’s actually nothing like something Kim Gordon might make. It is happy out there on its own.

It certainly has the creeping weirdness of some of Sonic Youth’s outsider hymns, but everything is focused through a lens that feels like Tom Waits gone industrial. Its spoken word sections are beguiling, confrontational. Its basslines dare you to settle into the groove. It is a war between organic and synthetic sounds: the opening cello drone quickly replaced by something sleek, black and gleaming.

Gordon’s guitar is a destructive force, bloodying up the gleeful anti-consumerist screed Air BnB. “American idea, American idea, copyright, copyright,” Gordon spits.

When the basslines resemble actual basslines rather than pulsing shots, they carry hefty melodic loads. The repurposed Murdered Out, Gordon’s first single, is an absolute monster that delights in making a racket.

As a presence, Gordon is remarkable. Her time away from music has only cast her cultural footprint in a starker light, but here she returns to the fray with teeth bared. She's the centre of ‘No Home Record’, preventing its chaotic sprawl from disintegrating into a whole lot of nothing much. That’s charisma, magnetism, call it what you want, in action.

And there are times when Gordon the rock icon bails out Gordon the songwriter. You have heard the Suicide via Pixies stomp of Hungry Baby before, for example, but not delivered with as much louche venom as this. Only Cookie Butter, a gruelling noise piece at the heart of the record, threatens to pull our focus from what’s unfolding. It’s been a long time coming, but ‘No Home Record’ is a thrilling start to Gordon’s solo career. It’s uncompromising, unfailingly sharp, and viscerally exciting. 

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