Brody Dalle (formerly of The Distillers and Spinnerette) recently released her first solo record, Diploid Love and it kind of caught me off guard. I was never hugely into either of her first two bands (though now I’m sort of primed to give them another shot), neither of them hitting at the right point in my life to really connect with me. But, for whatever reason, I felt compelled to sample a few songs from Diploid Love and they took hold fairly quickly. Within moments I had purchased the album on iTunes and three weeks later it’s still enjoying fairly heavy rotation in my household.
Some detractors of the record have lamented that it lacks a bit of the edge and intensity of Dalle’s work in The Distillers, which is a fair enough criticism except that’s not really the point here. After extricating herself from addiction and becoming a mother it would be dishonest of Dalle to appropriate a decade-old expired perspective in the name of fan service. Here, she’s refreshingly candid in a way that’s blunt enough to bravely flirt with true uncoolness in the eyes of today’s music blogosphere. Recovery, motherhood and Los Angeles through the lens of someone in their 30’s who no longer parties – not the topics of someone arbitrarily trying to connect with youth culture.
But still, there’s a remarkable energy and ferocity here (along with some great understated moments) – it’s not like all the rough edges have been sanded off. Opening track “Rat Race” approaches the screaming intensity of The Distillers, but the album hits its stride in the middle stretch. “Dressed In Dreams”, “Carry On” and “Meet The Foetus” are all exceptionally successful in marrying her youthful energy to her new point of view. “Foetus” in particular is a surprisingly touching song about connecting with an unborn child and the anxieties of bringing new life into a world that is falling into disarray (a theme nicely fleshed out by its accompanying video).
Diploid Love at times feels like the transitional album that it is. At only nine tracks, there’s a palpable tentativeness in terms of making a “bold statement.” It’s not that, it’s an update. A first step into unfamiliar terrain. And there’s a slight hiccup with “Don’t Mess With Me”, a forced olive branch to fans not ready to move on (it’s the only tune I regularly skip). But when you’ve got stuff like the surprisingly assured “Parties For Prostitutes” to close out your record, you can survive a few bumps in the road.
You can buy Diploid Love on iTunes and check out “Meet The Foetus” below.