For all the controversy surrounding this record, you’d think Kelly Clarkson had released “Metal Machine Music.” It does have a Seventies feel to it, but “My December” isn’t kin to Lou Reed’s notorious 45 minutes of droning feedback. When it works, it’s a straight-up rocker Pat Benetar wouldn’t be ashamed of.
Patty Larkin once said, “don’t’ piss off a songwriter,” and here’s a good example of why. This is a seething work; aided by punk hero Mike Watt (Minutemen) and co-producer Jimmy Messer’s slashing guitar work, the music’s as edgy as the subject matter. The jilted mistress of “Never Again” is the same one who later snarls, “I don’t’ want to hear about your wonderful life” in “How I Feel.”
“Hole” spews more bile on this ex-boyfriend, who appears to be the record’s primary songwriting inspiration, while the bonus track “Dirty Little Secret” sounds lifted from the Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls.”
When she’s angry, this record’s a joy. Though only an EP’s worth; “My December” is ultimately an erratic effort. Clarkson should have stuck to rocking out, and avoided the indulgence of ballads like “Irvine” and “Sober” – though the latter is a worthy showcase for the “American Idol” winner’s ample vocal talents.