After the Distillers split, punk rock queen Brody Dalle formed Spinnerette with members from the Distillers and Queens of the Stone Age. She’s added dance and emotion but retained her strength. With her latest Spinnerette album, Brody ain’t gonna lose many old fans. Just gain new ones.
Artists seem to work in periods, becoming obsessed with one style or one technique, creating works that adhere to their desired format. Once they’ve sufficiently explored their obsession, they move forward, searching to experiment with something else in the favour of challenging themselves, reinventing themselves. Picasso had his Blue Period, his Rose Period before moving into Cubism. Brody Dalle is no exception to this rule.
Former punk rock queen Brody Dalle spent eight years as frontwoman of The Distillers, writing songs with both hard grit and sickening beauty. Thousands of The Distillers fans were horrified when they heard about the band calling it quits in 2006. Some were even more horrified when Ms. Dalle announced that she was starting a new project — one that would be very much different from the punk tunes that they were used to.
Working under the moniker Spinnerette and collaborating with formed Distillers bandmate Tony Bevilacqua, Alain Johannes of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Irons (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eleven and Pearl Jam), Dalle has adopted a fresh, new musical style on the self-titled debut album, Spinnerette. While Dale’s new music may alienate some diehard fans, it’s one that will surely win her quite a few new ones.
The album kick starts with “Ghetto Love”, a delicate balance between a funkiness that forces you to move your hips with its drum work and the hard rocking that will keep you banging your head with its guitar work. On hearing this opening track, hardcore Dalle fans should feel that in spite of this punk beauty softening her sound, she definitely hasn’t lost her edge.
“All Babes Are Wolves” is a thrashing plea for forgiveness and a declaration of devotion all wrapped into one. Likening herself to a wolf “born on a bad moon”, Dalle apologizes for her past mistakes while aiming to do better the next time if offered one more chance. Dalle moves from steady singing and then sky rockets to screams in a chorus of, “Oh babe, I would die for you, woah. Oh babe, I would never stray.” If you’ve gotten into a tiff with your significant other, this just might be the rock anthem you need to win them back. Play it on a dark night under a bad moon and they’ll love you forever.
Dalle is a woman that’s suffered the sting of the Roman Godlike ambassador of love quite a few times and it shows on “Cupid”. The track is a little more downtempo than those that precede it, mixing in a few unexpected chimes and tinkers with the guitar – a juxtaposition that further illustrates the theme of Cupid not being nearly as nice as we all wish he’d be. Deeply singing, “Cupid’s a heartless angel with cruel composure,” Dalle’s words are poetic, but easy to relate to. When Dalle points out that Cupid doesn’t “aim to please,” they are words that we’ve all thought once or twice before.
“Geeking” is summer mischief’s anthem. With lines like, “You and I got a reason to live. Now that I’m drunk, I don’t know what is,” it’s easy to see why. It’s equal parts rebel and feelgood with a hint of restlessness as Dalle sings, “Nowhere, going nowhere, going nowhere. Nowhere fast. Lightning fast.” Wasting time has never sounded better.
The next track,”Baptized By Fire”, was picked as one of the three singles released from the album. The track has a wonderful message to it with lines like, “Pick your heart up off the floor, hold it gently now and go to the place you were meant to know.” It has somewhat introspective, slower verses and a more upbeat, dance-oriented feel which helps bring to life the message of redemption, even after years of pain.
“A Spectral Suspension” is a haunting lullaby with steady drums and guitar work that explode at the chorus. The track speaks volumes of desperation and guilt as Brody scream-sings, “I’ve gone mad, kissed insane. Where do you go when you leave this place? I’ve made my bed. Don’t have to lie in it.” It’s ethereal and slightly gothic in its dark but delicate and dreamy vibe. It’s easy to feel the influence of Johannes’ work with Queens of the Stone Age in its composition, while Dalle’s voice and lyrical stylings help to make the sound all her own.
“Distorting A Code” is the second song from the Ghetto Love EP that made it onto the album (the first being the EP’s title track) and for good reason. Dalle wonders dreamily on the track, “How do I find my back home?” Later on in the track, the music moves into a frantic breakdown only to find its way back to its softer pace in the end, working beautifully with the idea of finding your way back home through difficult situations.
“Sex Bomb” and “The Impaler” are two of the more diverse tracks off the album. Both tracks sound like a rocker’s way of approaching world music which makes for an unexpected but highly enjoyable pair of tracks. “Sex Bomb” takes a sexier approach as Dalle pleads, “Be my daddy, love you only. No other daddy can tell me what to do.” Though the usage of nickname can seem a bit creepy to some, all in all the track is raunchy good danceable fun. “The Impaler” drops a little bit of the sexy and opts for scary as Dalle sings, “I’ll take your head off tonight, Vlad Impaler style.” It’s a track that will get you pumped for any of your own battles.
“Driving Song” is a rocking lament that hits you in the heart as Dalle asks, “If all the love in this world isn’t enough, where do you go, who do you trust?” At its core, the track is about having to leave behind somebody that you once loved. A bad breakup or a falling out with a friend is a truly shaking moment that most will do anything to avoid. Dalle captures the essence of that awful period after it doesn’t work out and serves it up in a way that won’t have you running for the tissue box.
“Rebellious Palpitations” is loud, good fun. It bursts into life like a bat out of hell and keeps on rocking all the way through. This track was made to be blasted from a convertible while driving seventy miles an hour down a desert highway.
“The Walking Dead” has a title that will deceive you. No, it’s not an ode to everybody’s favourite undead creatures, the zombies. The track’s aim is to make you think about how you live your own life. “I won’t believe in dying to live,” Dalle sings as you can feel the sincerity in her words. It’s a fabulous track that will help you think about how you deal with the daily grind and rat race that so many seem to get trapped in.
“A Prescription for Mankind” is the album’s closer and it’s eight minutes of the sexiest rock and roll you’ll hear from any modern band. It ends the album on a high note and will leave have you wanting to get your prescription refilled over and over.
It’s difficult to find an album anywhere else that will contain such raw emotion, tackling a host of tough topics with such expert songwriting while still remaining as uptempo and catchy as Spinnerette manages to be. Between the rocking beats and the relatable circumstances of each track, every song begs to be put on repeat and it’ll be difficult to stop yourself from answering that plea. Instead of opting to The Distillers 2.0 after the split, Dalle took a risk and developed a new sound that has definitely paid off. Though Dalle’s new sound may turn off some of her old fans, the band’s debut self-titled album is brilliant in its own right – infusing Dalle’s edge with a more playful, less intense sound that is sure to bring Brody Dalle to a whole new audience.