The former Distillers singer returns with some glossy, futuristic rock
When an artist slips off the radar it can elicit one of two responses – total apathy or a frustrating sense of loss. The absence of Brody Dalle following the release of 2009’s Spinnerette album cut deep. Her musical time-out not only turned a glaring spotlight onto the massive, female-shaped gap in the contemporary punk landscape but also deprived us of a truly great, brutally badass talent for almost half a decade. Thank fuck, then, for Brody’s return and the unrepentant, defiant ‘Diploid Love’, the first album the former Distillers frontwoman has released under her own name.
A glossy slab of Blade Runner rock, the nine tracks here make for a 21st century survival kit channelled through hardcore with a sci-fi soundtrack sheen. At times it’s like Giorgio Moroder is behind the desk, all jacked up on blue steak and bourbon, rather than QOTSA associate Alain Johannes.
Punk is usually about breaking down walls rather than protectively building them up. But from the record’s title, which refers to the double sets of chromosomes given to an organism by both parents, through to the moody, mothering angst of the immersive ‘Meet The Foetus/Oh The Joy’ and the gleeful sound of Brody and Josh Homme’s kids laughing on ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’, this is a record that glows with inner pride rather than bristling with self-loathing.
A string of high-profile guests, including Nick Valensi of The Strokes, Shirley Manson of Garbage and Warpaint’s Emily Kokal, don’t stop it from being Brody’s record and Brody’s alone. Even ‘Underworld’, written when she was still in The Distillers and featuring Mexican horns courtesy of Mariachi El Bronx, breaks any lingering shackles of her old band with its fulsome sound and her mature, subtly mellowed vocals. If any other artist comes close to nabbing Brody’s thunder, it’s Depeche Mode, whose sordid, leather-swathed stomp is hinted at throughout, from the malevolent thrum of ‘Blood In Gutters’ to the brooding ‘Dressed In Dreams’. Elsewhere, jazz-club keys and a skittering drum machine make ‘Carry On’ a waltzing offering of demon disco, while ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’ sees Brody purring rather than growling. It’s a graceful evolution and one that rocks just as hard as the squalling fury of The Distillers ever did.