The First Session is essentially a reissue of Hole's 1991 Sympathy for the Record Industry 7" "Retard Girl," and while the new title might suggest some kind of historical gravitas, this is still the same abrasive, barbed-wire juvenilia it's always been. Though clearly intended as a profound statement on the intolerance and depravity of humankind, "Retard Girl" is little more than a catalog of ugly childhood behaviors and impulses that confuses shock value for substance. Eric Erlandson's lumpy, lurching guitar possesses none of the raw lyricism evidenced on subsequent Hole records, but Courtney Love's ear-splitting screech does achieve some kind of catharsis. The Patti Smith homage "Johnnies in the Bathroom," a tedious exercise merging spoken word narrative, tape montage, and pig-squealing guitar feedback, rounds out the set and fares even worse. At least the thrashy "Phonebill Song" demands closer examination, with self-aware lyrics (i.e., "I'm a demon buttercup") that suggest Love's larger-than-life persona was set in concrete long before the first drop of tabloid ink ever spilled.
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny