There are influences and then there are blatant rip-offs. Why anyone in their right mind would consciously choose to imitate Courtney Love is somewhat of a mystery; there is, after all, already the original. Also, while it’s perfectly understandable that some people begin their music career by idolising (and to an extent copying) their idols, most artists develop their own style over the course of their career and normally find their own ‘voice’. Not so, at least not yet, for Brody Dalle.
For those unfamiliar with the former Distillers and Spinnerette leader, just imagine Love fronting the Queens Of The Stone Age and you’ve got Dalle’s first record as a solo artist. And if you can picture that, you’ve already heard the album in your head. Recorded in Josh Homme’s Pink Duck Studio (the Queens Of The Stone Age frontman being Dalle’s husband, of course) and featuring contributions from Michael Shuman – also from Queens Of The Stone Age – the guitars on Diploid Love lean heavy, heavily towards… Queens Of The Stone Age. No shit.
Then there are the vocals. Dalle’s contralto vocal range is raw, gutsy and gravelly – if you didn’t know she’d just recently had her second child, you’d be easily fooled into believing this woman’s diet purely consisted of hard whiskey and cigarettes. And despite very briefly dabbling into sweeter, softer territory one track, Carry On, you can pretty much close your eyes, replace Dalle’s image with Love’s, and we’re back in 1994 when Hole are at their peak. “Well, give us an example then,” I hear you say… The entirety of Diploid Love is your example.
But just because it’s far from original doesn’t make it completely terrible. Dalle is clearly talented in that she co-produced and oversaw her solo album, with Alain Johannes taking charge on knob-twiddling duties. Dalle also wrote all the songs herself and played almost all of the instruments, which is actually pretty damn impressive (except for the Mariachi horns, obviously – that’s El Mariachi Bonx and Cindy from the El Mariachi Divas, there). Other guest appearances on the album come courtesy of Shirley Manson from Garbage, Nick Valensi from The Strokes, violinist Jessy Greene, Emily Kokal from Warpaint, Tyler Parkford from Mini Mansions with Darren Weiss of Papa and Hayden Scott of AWOLNATION helping out on the sticks.
Lyrically, Dalle’s still ‘taking no shit’ and expressing her anarchistic ways in tracks with titles like Don’t Mess With Me and I Don’t Need Your Love, but despite even the song names sounding too Hole-ish for comfort, the likes of Underworld, Dressed In Dreams and Blood In Gutters prove that she does have a good ear for a memorable hook from time to time. Diploid Love doesn’t suck, but neither is it revolutionary. If anything, at least Dalle’s volunteering to carry on the torch for the next generation of riot grrrls.