Brody Dalle, former frontwoman for The Distillers and Spinnerette, has finally released her solo debut entitled Diploid Love. It’s a tight, raging collection that appears to cover the gamut of Dalle’s life: her struggles with drugs and depression, her complicated past with her estranged biological father, and her ability to rise above it all.
Though it may leave her punk fury behind, Dalle’s trim 9 track collection still has a just a smidge more fuck-you-attitude than Avril Lavigne prancing in a pink tutu (JK, YOU GUYS – that shit can’t be unseen). Produced by friend and frequent collaborator Alain Johannes, Dalle also taps a few others for a hand, including The Strokes’ Nick Valensi, Queens of the Stone Age’s Michael Shuman, Warpaint’s Emily Kokal, and Garbage’s Shirley Manson, who sings backup on lead single “Meet the Foetus/Oh the Joy.” Mariachi El Bronx even appears to add a rousing horn section to “Rat Race” and “Underworld.” On these and others, Dalle exhibits a departure from her norm, playing about 80 percent of the music on it, from drum machines and bass, to synths. Spinnerette, her last sort-of-solo, has now become a bridge from where she was before with The Distillers to where she ended up. The progression is welcomed, but is never any less aggressive in message or accomplishment.
Dalle is hitting the promo circuit pretty hard lately. On the docket: her kids, pregnancy, how being a mom changed her, and lastly, a few asides about the new songs she’s touting. Comparing Dalle’s interviews with those of her husband Josh Homme’s when Like Clockwork first came out, there’s an alarming disparity. Homme frequently talked about his brush with death, his past work, his process, life on the road, and other dude-ly stuff, too. The interviews were far more focused on what matters the most and why we give these rockers our hard earned money in the first place: the music.
Reading so much about her kids is disappointing in a way. Should that really be the prime focus here? Just how much of it is PR spin? Are journalists skewing the story of Diploid Love’s creation toward her kids because they think that’s the right angle to pursue? Why isn’t Homme asked about how being a dad changed him? It’s harmless, but also kind of sexist. I would much rather learn about other parts of her journey – her drug and depression issues, her outlook toward her early days with The Distillers, what she was going through during the Spinnerette era and how that helped shape the new Diploid tunes. So because she is a female in rock, her record has to play second fiddle to the story of motherhood?
After decades of brilliant frontwomen in rock (Courtney Love, Shirley Manson, Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, etc.), all of this motherhood business reeks of “What’s it like to be a woman in rock?” You’d think that it’d be moronic to pose that sort of question to an artist as dominating as a Kim Deal or Brody herself, say, but yet it happens all the time in rock journalism. Is it too much to ask a “woman in rock” anything else except for questions about her vagina or femininity? It’s pretty weaksauce and is becoming increasingly boring to read.
But hey man – who am I to judge? If she’s comfortable talking about her kids and if she’s found some happiness through them, I’m supportive. However, there are countless other aspects about music that we should be focused on. Most importantly, on Diploid, Dalle more than proves that she hasn’t gone soft. She’s better equipped to handle baggage that comes her way, giving the new disc a more grounded and grown up perspective from past efforts, without ever sacrificing her edge or signature growl.
Dalle and Homme are the kind of rock couple that we should hone in on, though. They are some of the raddest and baddest rockers on the scene, together or apart. But the media and society’s constant focus on artists’ offspring (via photos or in print) is more than disturbing, especially when it’s so one sided. Maybe the next time someone interviews Homme, they should ask him if he’s going to watch the kiddos while Dalle tours the world and makes ears bleed.
Diploid Love Grade: A