Body/Head - Coming Apart

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During her time with Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon's songs were always among the most experimental, so it's no surprise that of the debut albums released by the band's former members, hers is the most challenging. Coming Apart, her first album with guitarist Bill Nace as Body/Head, is a bold, expansive announcement of who she is after spending so much of her career with one of alternative rock's most legendary acts. While there are hints of Sonic Youth here and there, an unmistakable feeling of freedom resonates through the album. Liberated from trying to fit her vision into the context and confines of her previous band and freed from fitting her songs to a drumbeat, Gordon feels more present on Coming Apart than ever before; it's no coincidence she sounds strangely ecstatic when shouting "Can't Help You"'s refrain. Relying only on her voice and dense waves of guitar, she and Nace make the most of noise and silence on these expansive tracks, sounding just as eloquent when whispering and delicately plucking as they do when they're wailing and wringing out feedback. Gordon's vocals are a revelation throughout, spanning rage, anguish, and sensuality as on the cover of "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair," which rivals their transformative version of "Fever" in emotional ambiguity. While the sly wit that peppered her Sonic Youth songs is missing, it doesn't have a place in the emotive, intuitive territory she and Nace map out on these songs.