Distillers : Coral Fang
This is Brody biting back...
After a decade as mama poo-bitch hate-figure of rock Courtney Love’s rein is over. There’s a new superbitch-elect in town. Meet Brody Dalle (nee Armstrong) frontwoman of So-Cal’s hottest punk-pop four piece The Distillers.
In an era where Pink, Avril Lavigne and Amy Studt are chasing rock authenticity, Brody Dalle is effortlessly the real deal. Just look at what she’s achieved in 9 months. Like a punk-rock Janine from ‘Eastenders’ she’s tornadoed in and caused the biggest schism in the alternative community for over a decade. How did she split a movement ideologically grounded in solidarity and unity? She left Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong for Queens Of The Stone Age mainman, Josh Homme. When she recently declared herself the “most hated woman on earth”, she wasn’t joking. Loads of people loathe her fucking guts.
Not that this was ever gonna derail Dalle. She’s conqured far greater demons. An outcast since the age of 13 (her wifebeating biological dad made way for a stepfather who made her a stranger in her own home) she flunked out of two convent schools and was sleeping on the streets by her mid-teens. In between she became hooked to and kicked both heroin and self-harm. She moved from her native Australia to LA after falling in love with Tim Armstrong. All this by the time she turned 18.
Yet, all these deeds are made irrelevant by ‘Coral Fang’. In that, The Distillers have made the finger-flippin’-fuck-you-fuelled-sado-masochism-obsesssed LP of 2003.
‘Coral Fang’ sounds as if Brody’s been banking it all up for this moment. All the flak she’s taken from the likes of her ex-husband, internet message boards, Kelly Osbourne, (Ms. O dubbed her “a fake”) is all boiled down to these 45 minutes. The motifs of being stabbed in the back, the Brody witch hunt, how her head is wanted by everyone. It’s all explored here (hear ‘Drain The Blood’, ‘Die On A Rope’ and ‘The Gallow Is God’).
Not that this is a record just about hate. This is a record about being headfuckingly, dangerously in love too. From the straight up love songs of ‘Beat Yr Heart Out’ and ‘Love Is Paranoid’, to the bunny-boiler intensity of ‘The Hunger’ (“Don’t goooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!”) to the sadomasochistic screams of ‘Deathsex’.
It all comes back to ‘Die On A Rope’. A circle-pit hurlaround which compounds Brody’s betrayal by her friends, the subsequent witch hunt, her unhappy marriage, her sexual reawakening into less than three minutes and sets it to a soundtrack that’s part QOTSA, part Green Day. “Tell me something/Tell me stupid/Will I die, will I die on a rope?” she asks, to which her rhetorical growled answer is “I’ve beeeen dead for yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaars”.
There are dodgy moments. The mid paced amble through ‘The Gallow Is God’ puts the breaks on the headlong momentum built up by the opening three tracks. And 11 minutes of ‘Deathsex’ is enough for any man. But even these are redeemed by Brody’s scowl. A vocal technique which sounds like it was achieved on a diet of shots of bleach and vindaloo chasers, though more likely comes from smoking loads of fags.
Brody has always been uncomfortable with her potential as a rock heroine. She said recently on being a woman in rock “It’s not an issue for me. I don’t play my guitar with my vagina”.
But in making a record with such universal themes of love and hate, and sounding so pissed off in the process, Brody has inadvertently made herself the most important new rock star in the world. She might’ve divided the punk rock community but this is Brody biting back. On this evidence, she’s fixing to conquer everything that lies before her.
Get ‘Coral Fang’ at the NME Shop