Courtney Love

America's Sweetheart, Virgin America

Pity poor Courtney Love, former rebel icon now firmly beached upon the shores of Hollywood compromise: desperate for proper stardom, in its old-fashioned, movie-biz glamour-puss form, yet equally keen to retain a grasp on the notoriety that washed her up there in the first place. The trouble is, that's so far in the past now - her last release was 1998's Celebrity Skin - that it's virtually history. The result is America's Sweetheart, which seems to be fighting the same old battles again, when, frankly, nobody but Love and a few sad grunge holdouts gives a damn. Can she really be taking a pop at Julian Cope in "But Julian, I'm a Little Bit Older Than You"? And if she isn't referring to her late husband in lines such as: "Hey, God, you owe me one more song/ So I can prove to them/ That I'm so much better than him", then who? Despite the involvement of co-writers such as Linda Perry and - bizarrely - Bernie Taupin, this is clearly Love's album, stuffed with references to sex and drugs and suicide, and fronted by that same surly, sulky rant'n'roar, atop designer-punk music that sounds dangerously close to the formulaic rock-chick style of Pat Benatar. Not that she'd notice: "Why does it rain on my parade/ Why does the song remain the same?" she gripes in one song, seemingly oblivious to her ossified musical state.