Music Reviews
Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon

The Collective

Matador Records

I’ll be returning to this record, like Gordon’s first solo album, No Home Record (2015), and not because it’s a banger. I don’t think so. It’s complicated.

Last night, I saw Bob Dylan perform. Remade and remodeled arrangements of songs old and new did a number on me. And he sang,

A blast of electricity that runs at top speed/Shimmy your ribs, I’ll stick in the knife/Gonna jumpstart my creation to life/I wanna bring someone to life, turn back the years/Do it with laughter, and do it with tears.”

Making monsters. Killing idols. Seeing what happens. Kim knows nothing is unprecedented.

• •

Kim Gordon
by Danielle Neu
Kim Gordon

Honorable Mention: “The Believers”

Again, Gordon has impressively aligned herself with distinguished and familiar 21st Century (we’re almost a quarter of the way in) producers Justin Raisen and brother SADPONY. They, as well as sonic and otherwise contributors Twig Harper, YBG, and Sarah Register, bring the noise. Intentionally or not, the music owes much to experimental Euro outfits like Kraakbot and Merkwürdig Riechnerv, but then the brothers’ Yves Tumor and Charli XCX productions aren’t exactly American Top 40. For every greasetrap door, there’s a window looking down on our continental neighbors a decade ahead along the paths of often non-symbiotic artistic clutter. This isn’t a criticism of any camp, and I reckon Ms. Gordon knows the deal.

Superior: “Trophies”

Her dry and wry delivery hasn’t changed much since “Shaking Hell” (Confusion Is Sex, 1983), but the software and effects sometimes tweak her whispery delivery to sound like a consoling friend though more unsteadily authoritative stylings of a piece with the wired K2 matchstick hanging out at Wawa. Akin to so much of her reductionist visual art, verses evoke imagists. A “Pussy Galore” here, a “Bikini Kill” there. In The New York Times, Raisen referred to Gordon as a “noise designer.”

As an aside, I’ve a hunch she’s been reading Katie Herzog with an arched brow to the ferocity of intersectionality. Gordon has pushed the power of women a long way in 40 years, and maybe, just maybe, her primacy has been supplanted by kooks. And maybe, just maybe, she’s bummed.

Third Place: “I’m a Man”

Reviewers elsewhere suppose Kim’s giving “a takedown of toxic masculinity.” Gordon indeed referenced Josh Hawley’s stridency in the same Times article referenced above. Conversely, with closer lyrical inspection in juxtaposition to 2024-ese, nods to affectations, i.e. “black napkin” and the effete, i.e. “Nancy” and “Zeus” seem closer to sympathy for the dispossessed male. Those soft and hard expectations of economics, power, and the offspring that can beget genuine fear.

Coda: “It’s Dark Inside”

Overall, Gordon stands in the center of the mix, largely listing and parroting today’s Siri commands, hers and your digital algorithms, tribulations, temptations, makeup, shapeshifters of the newest (as I write) de rigeur but already hackneyed media jargon. Maybe your mom’s Snapchat. The Stooges riffage has been overrun through rinse. Way back when Kim and the Gang were sharing cyberpunk novels, web tech was nascent. Sonics now better pair with her delivery inside an ostensibly sentient matrix.

What have we made? For me the noise and beats, this freeing, grimy and lacquered music, aligns at times with serenity. Maybe more so contentment. Do I detect that Gordon is edging closer to universal Truth or outright stating unconscious knowledge? She’s evaded being boxed in for decades.

And what’s this all to do with Dylan? It’s Gordon’s longevity and re-creation and our familiarity with her. The constants of her art, the surprises we expect. With The Collective, you get a Whitman’s sampler of lyrical clickbait packed tightly against the personal and unremarkable. And you may feel like dancing. This Webb telescope, Gordon points at you, me, herself, and the future.

Kim Gordon


Recently on Ink 19...

Dark Water

Dark Water

Screen Reviews

J-Horror classic Dark Water (2002) makes the skin crawl with an unease that lasts long after the film is over. Phil Bailey reviews the new Arrow Video release.

The Shootist

The Shootist

Screen Reviews

John Wayne’s final movie sees the cowboy actor go out on a high note, in The Shootist, one of his best performances.