In 2011 I heard Live Through This and generally hated it. I don’t remember the record at all, but my review at the time suggests I thought it was overproduced for what it was. Five years later I heard Pretty on the Inside and loved it.
What changed? I don’t really know as I arguably have more tolerance from slicker production than I used to. Maybe there really is a distinct different between those records, though I doubt it. I just must have been able to put aside my preconceived notions about Courtney Love before I listened to their debut, but couldn’t do that earlier when I first her their second record.
Love has a strong sense of melody. The people who go on and on about how she is only famous because of her relationship with Cobain either have never listened to her songs or are conspiracists. The largest problem (of many) with the conspiracy theory that Cobain wrote Hole’s songs is that she continues to write songs. Though I remember neither of the albums before this off the top of my head, I don’t think the songs here are noticeably worse than earlier records.
Love is the kind of lyricist I don’t pay much attention to (I mean that in a good way). Her lyrics, when I do listen, seem a lot better than the things she says in interviews, which is definitely something.
The issue I have with the record, as I did with Live Through This, is that Hole sound like a post grunge band too much of the time. I know they’re not but when Love isn’t yelling or screaming this sounds way too much like an imitation of alternative rock, rather than alternative rock. Some of that is due to Love and company clearly trying to transition into a different sound – closer to power pop than grunge – but some of it feels like an attempt to sell more records. I thought like this more if it sounded like Pretty On the Inside, or even if they committed completely to the power pop sound.