Artist: Brody Dalle
Title: Diploid Love
Record Label: Caroline
Release Date: 28th April 2014
For her first stint at going it alone, Brody Dalle has thrown caution to the wind when it comes to her solo LP, ‘Diploid Love’. Acting like the conduit between the Melbourne born artist’s former bands, The Distillers and Spinnerette, the Australian icon has forged a record that snarls with punk aggression whilst being brave enough to explore previously undiscovered territories. If ‘Spinnerette’ was Dalle testing the water with a new musical endeavour, ‘Diploid Love’ leaps headlong into the ocean and it’s all the more fearless for it.
With Dalle’s initial foray away from the blueprint of punk, ‘Spinnerette’ illustrated a lust to push the boundaries of what is expected from rock music and especially a female focal point. With Spinnerette, Dalle toyed with electronics and dusty guitar lines more associated with her spouse’s brand of rugged rock ‘n’ roll. This blueprint has been rolled out across ‘Diploid Love’s lifespan but where Dalle’s first project after The Distillers was perhaps a little bloated in places, this primary solo effort is leaner, tenser and heavier. With only nine tracks to its name, ‘Diploid Love’ doesn’t have time to dilly-dally, it’s focussed and razor sharp. Even during the album’s more expansive moments, that recall nods to Portishead, The Postal Service and bizarrely a demonic Coldplay fronted by a venomous Courtney Love, the fat content here is negligible. ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’ is the biggest departure from the Dalle of old, taking in those Portishead vibes, this six minute opus combines a menacing piano and the sound of drip-dripping drums, whilst the inclusion of taut plucked strings convey an uneasy air to them. Our protagonist side-lines her trademark howl for the voice of an angel, albeit one that’s fallen to earth with tattered wings and a buckled halo. Electronic influences are prevalent but it’s the use of orchestral flourishes and a breakdown of sampled baby noises that makes for a thrilling centre piece to ‘Diploid Love’.
Despite the comparisons to the less than punk figureheads of Chris Martin and Co, Dalle hasn’t dulled her acidic growl nor has her guitar been diluted to that of an arena band, at times ‘Diploid Love’ rages with a frenzied roar. Opening with ‘Rat Race’ things slalom to punctuated guitar stabs and the rampant drumming of someone pummelling sheet metal. Revving up like a modern twist on punk’s spit embalmed template it comes as a surprise when jubilant parps of brass segue in a triumphant leaning. Dalle is in fine voice too, with a defiant tone to her husky pipes “I got a gun pointed at the rat race/got my own private road to hell” smirks at the thought of nowadays modernity and, how vacuous and greedy we’ve all become. Brass plays another key part in ‘Underworld’, shotgun punk vibes reign supreme thanks to a salvo of rollicking bass and drum combinations that buoy searing helpings of fret-assaults. As the track progresses, the sound of horns become more prominent leading to the imagery of Dalle’s former outfit jumping a marching band in a dark alley or a brass band chasing a gang of young punks out of town. The whole shebang glides effortlessly into a mariachi breakdown to bring the million-miles an hour moment to a composed halt.
Optimism and defiance are significant factors within ‘Diploid Love’, ‘Dressed in Dreams’ is where the Coldplay style influences bear fruit, only if for the soaring walls of whirring shoegaze like guitar. Catharsis comes in the guise of Dalle declaring “better days are waiting for me” and the throat distorting clarion call of “I want the freedom to dream the impossible” couldn’t be anymore life affirming. Coming of like a bruised and broken EMA, ‘Blood in Gutters’ manipulates static waves into tuneful drones and fuzzy notions, Dalle barks “find your weakness/go on! Kill it!” akin to the last battle cry before heading out to war. The album’s nuances towards inner power and belief are reassuringly infectious, thus making for a record that principally appears mechanical but throbs with a beating human heart.
Despite clawing in help from the likes of Shirley Manson (Garbage), Emily Kokal (Warpaint), Nick Valensi (The Strokes) and Michael Shuman (QOTSA) ‘Diploid Love’ feels like a record where compromise is non-existent. Dalle sounds revitalised, passionate and hungry and something that makes her solo LP a vital listen.