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Kim Gordon returns with The Collective's thrilling ride

"The Collective"

Release date: 08 March 2024
Kim Gordon The Collective cover
07 March 2024, 09:00 Written by Callum Foulds

Kim Gordon has spent the best part of the last four decades being the epitome of “cool”.

Being too rock and roll for the art world, but too artsy and esoteric for the alternative guitar-driven scene of the 1980s and 90s, Gordon has successfully utilised her unique position between these two worlds; wielding the ferocious grit of Courtney Love, alongside the effortlessly blasé vibes of forever it-girl, Chloë Sevigny. What is most remarkable and commendable about Gordon’s place in pop culture, is that she has retained her inherent coolness to date. There is no one out there doing it like Kim Gordon, and her return to music with The Collective proves that she is still the coolest person in music.

2019 saw the release of No Home Record, Kim Gordon’s debut solo release, a brilliant record that switched between genres including industrial, trap, rock and roll, and art punk. Reviewers stated it to include some of the best work of her career; in 2024, it is hard to imagine how such an impact will be made, having Gordon’s return to music and the excitement built up around her greatly bolstering her debut. The Collective not only meets the musical expectations first conjured up by, No Home Record, but utterly demolishes age-old expectations of what it means to be a veteran artist in a world where the next-big-thing is relentlessly commodified.

The Collective opens with, “BYE BYE”, almost an ode to No Home Record; its thunderous distorted beat calls to mind Mitski’s, “Thursday Girl, the way it scrapes along the song’s ocean floor. The lyrics list off the contents of her suitcase, before Gordon waves, “bye bye, bye bye”. It is as if, “Drunken Butterfly” – one of Gordon’s finest moments from Sonic Youth’s Dirty – has been ripped apart and put back together in a haphazard manner: what remains is Gordon’s singular lyricism, that is still showing remarkable similarities to the work of modernist poets; her lyrics are evocative yet simple, and eager to challenge the traditional norms of songwriting. This is best displayed on the second single of the record, the industrial noise-pop of, “I’m A Man’. Gordon assumes the role of a man expressing distaste for those who seemingly put him down just by living. It is a well-executed concept, one that takes a minute to grasp. What is most apparent about this track, and most of The Collective, is its repetition, which puts the listener into a trance-like state. It is in these moments you realise the sheer deftness at which Kim Gordon operates. Everything is accidental, yet everything is purposeful. Her eye for her own artistic point of view has never been sharper.

The rest of the record is an equally thrilling ride. The lo-fi, “The Candy House” sounds like it could belong within Sonic Youth’s Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star; the squeezed-up noise of, “I Don’t Miss My Mind”, features beats that bear a resemblance to the more groove-led moments of Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero; “The Believers” throws itself against the wall in a similar vein to the more metallically ferocious moments of Arca’s Mutant. It is in these moments that The Collective sings. Gordon pays homage to today’s pop provocateurs, as well as showing love to her innovative past; “It’s Dark Inside” references riot girl groups, Pussy Riot and Pussy Galore, the latter of which Gordon co-formed the side project, Free Kitten with band member Julia Cafritz.

Ultimately, The Collective feels like Kim Gordon’s tribute to herself. She is at her best when fully immersing herself in the most experimental sounds the contemporary landscape has to offer, something she has always done. Whether Gordon’s initial idea for the record was to create what Sonic Youth may have sounded like had they been an industrial band, it is hard to tell; what isn’t difficult to understand, is the way in which The Collective represents Gordon’s perpetual dedication to challenging societal norms of sex, age and musical tropes. I have little doubt that this will be the last we’ll hear from Gordon. She is as required in music as she always has been.

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