The former Hole & Smashing Pumpkins bassist goes it alone...
Matt Wicks 2004-01-23
The message behind Melissa Auf der Maur's debut solo album is unmistakeable. 'Come to me' she demands of her listener in the grunge rock, orally fixated track "Taste You". Her faux submissive lyrics belie a dominatrix whose angst seeps from the same vein as Courtney Love's.
What's apparent is that Auf Der Maur is no longer the bassist in the shadows. After stints as a member of Hole, led by the unpredictable and incendiary Courtney Love and with the Smashing Pumpkins on their farewell tour, there is no surprise that she wants to establish herself as a credible artist.
Her debut offering, titled simply Auf der Maur, takes reference from both of these legendary members of rock's hall of fame. But essentially the album is a lesson in how to get by with a little help from your friends. Production help and inspiration comes from Chris Goss of Queens of the Stone Age. There is the additional presence on guitar from the aforementioned band's Nick Olivera and Josh Homme and Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha. Certainly the trios particularly distinctive gritty rock sound is found in abundance on tracks such as "Real A Lie".
Excellent first single "Follow the Waves" features pounding drums and spiky guitar riffs, like the Pumpkins in their prime. The album is full of various influences. Auf der Maur pouts and broods like Shirley Manson in "Head Unbound". The soaring harmonies and metallic guitar of "Taste You Sounds" is not unlike PJ Harvey. There is even the Dubstar and Brit Pop-esque "Would If I Could".
Essentially this is a sound debut offering with guitar riffs and growling vocals from the Smashing Pumpkins school of rock. Curiously the album's downfall is not that it simply lacks originality but that it also teeters undecidedly on the boundary between epic and nondescript. She needs to truly propel herself away from a past that threatens to eclipse her sound.