Brody Dalle | Diploid Love | Rating: 8.1 / 11 |
“I got a gun pointed at the rat race / Got my own private road to hell”
As opening shots and introductions (or, in this case, re-introductions) go, Brody Dalle takes on the business of her first solo album by brandishing her very particular weaponry as only she can: with muscular punch, controlled angst, that singular and less than ladylike voice, maternal instincts and survivor defiance that, while more nuanced than her Distillers output and less crafty than Spinnerette’s one off, Diploid Love is quite flush with. It’s that grit and snarl that made her an essential representative of the fact that boys aren’t the only possessors of punk and rock balls.
Dalle seems just as prone to shoving a middle finger or a sonic fist in your face as she’s ever been (and that’s definitely something to applaud), but let’s hear it for growing up, shall we? Why? Because career stops and starts, bad relationships, marriage, motherhood and a pesky drug addiction have failed to derail Dalle. And while not necessarily defining her, those circumstances have certainly been filtered and processed through her song craft and vocal cord shredding over the years. With a little help from her friends like Shirley Manson (Garbage), Emily Kokal (Warpaint), Nick Valensi (The Strokes) and Alain Johannes assuming his familiar producer role, Diploid Love traverses noisy roads with tempered steeliness for an experience that is as satisfying as it is slightly agitating. The rugged pace set by “Rat Race” sees Dalle in control of her surroundings even if she is threatening to do it harm/let it all go but subsequent tracks boast a little bit of everything for good measure including that which you might least expect: see the out of left field appearance of Mariachi El Bronx’s brass section in “Underworld” and the dead stop, somewhat haunting, piano-based ballad of sorts “I Don’t Need Your Love,” complete with playful baby vocal samples. Softness upon softness in the midst of her anarchy: in case you didn’t think she had it in her or any stories left to tell “Parties For Prostitutes” shows she has plenty.
Digital bits, roaring guitars, strings, some dense desert production and healthy hooks just shy of in-your-face pop portray a Dalle not just comfortable in her skin but empowered in it. So if you’re looking for a retread into the Distillers territory, look elsewhere as things get down and outright euphoric on the album’s first single, “Meet the Foetus/Oh the Joy,” with Manson and Kokal as buoyant participants. Now while Dalle doesn’t stretch herself far beyond her vocal wheelhouse (that’s not a criticism because we come to this party to hear her meaty contralto and hear her use it well), she is aware enough to be flexible, allowing it to emotively bend in between the powerful howls. So oh-the-joy indeed and good to have Brody Dalle’s righteous brand of badass back.