Thinking about Courtney Love objectively is difficult at this point. Neither being married to nor widowed by Kurt Cobain makes her record good, and her public persona–a big mouth even by punk-rock standards, a worn-raw psyche, and a fairly big chip on her shoulder, for starters–is entertaining but unreliable. Ignore all of this, and her second album, presciently titled Live Through This, is OK: a step and a half up from her noisy debut and a resplendent slice of what you used to be able to call, with little irony, alternative rock. Despite the fairly clean production and radio-wise singles, this is not mainstream music; clashy guitars and screams are the building blocks here. Lyrically Love’s a bruised spokesperson for a lot of modern female trouble, some of it self-inflicted, sure, but a lot of it not, and it’s all affirmatively nonpretty. The trouble is when she sounds like a spokesperson. Take the song “Plump”: “They say I’m plump, but I throw up all the time.” That’s a little unsubtle for my taste, and unnecessary, too; she’s capable of much realer and more plaintive sentiments in interviews. (“I swear to god, I was a fat girl my whole life. No one would fuck me.”) Live you get neither a melody maker nor really a singer, just an entertaining if unreliable psyche displaying growing songwriting skills and attitude attitude attitude, with just enough intelligence and real anger to make your ears perk up. Veruca Salt and Madder Rose open; the show’s sold out. Friday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.