Kim Gordon – No Home Record

As was the case with her work in seminal alternative act Sonic Youth, so might vocalist/bassist Kim Gordon’s first solo effort confound casual listeners, though diehard fans will likely find it interesting to sift through the esoterica to try to find clues to her enigmatic personality.

This album has been a long time coming: after Sonic Youth acrimoniously disbanded in 2011 (due to the disintegration of Gordon’s marriage to bandmate Thurston Moore), Gordon focused on her visual art. A single, “Murdered Out,” finally appeared in 2016, all unsettling intensity and keening vocals over a smooth bassline and streetwise backbeat. But it took until now for that song to appear on a full album. Things kick off with “Sketch Artist,” with Gordon’s distinctive husky alto sing-speaking over disjointed experimental electronica. More familiar rock territory comes on “Air Bnb,” with aloof verses that wouldn’t sound amiss on a Velvet Underground album (though with skewed guitar shards cutting through it) before ramping up into wailing choruses. “Don’t Play It” finds her taking on a Patti Smith-esque snarl over a burbling bass line and minimalist percussion and synth flourishes, while “Earthquake” has a subdued start that gradually builds into a shimmering, unsettled thrum. It’s back to a near-spoken vocal style on “Get Yr Life Back,” underpinned with an unnerving, gyrating guitar loop and a haze of distortion.

Some of her cryptic lyrics seem more ripe for deciphering than others – “Cookie Butter,” for instance, sounds like she rather listlessly made up the lyrics on the spot – but fortunately, such underwhelming moments are rare. For most of No Home Record, Gordon seems intent on being as musically adventurous as she ever was with Sonic Youth, so that even the parts that are discordant are usually interesting. Still, the truth about who she really is remains as elusive as ever, no matter how uninhibited she seems to be at first listen.

Kim Gordon
No Home Record