Before Karen O strutted, spit and cooed her way to indie-rock-icon status, Courtney Love was arguably the last dynamic female to front a rock band. The grunge widow propelled Hole to stardom in the '90s with her inimitable martyr poses and baby-doll fashion. But Love lost some of her cathartic bellow on 1998's overly glossy Celebrity Skin -- a parallel that immediately springs to mind when listening to Show Your Bones. Absent are the seedy keyboard screeches and O's unhinged feral screams from 2003's Fever to Tell, replaced by mellow fuzz tones and sedate singing. Unfortunately, this conceit often produces tedious music that's so muted it feels devoid of passion. Bones isn't without merit, though: The sparse "Warrior" sounds like early PJ Harvey dueling at dawn with modern-era Sonic Youth; "Dudley" resembles a lost Siouxsie and the Banshees gem; and "Mysteries" finally features some old-fashioned metalhead-approved roars. But just as Hole has become a dated relic of the flannel era, if the Yeahs aren't careful, in another decade they might be remembered only as the token femme-art-punk representatives of the great '00s NYC rock resurgence.
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