Shaking off the ghost of the long defunct Distillers was never going to be an easy task for Brody Dalle and cohort Tony Bevilacqua. But by trying out new influences other than punk throttle by numbers, they have ensured Spinnerette are not The Distillers Part Two, a feat successfully managed without losing any of that band’s old magic.
When the digital Ghetto Love EP emerged late last year, many were aghast at the pop direction Spinnerette were heading down. Gone were the ferocious, frenzied guitars and vitriolic lyrics, replaced by sophisticated grooves and an overall sexier, more upbeat sound – leading many to label Dalle and Co as selling out. Despite featuring Dalle’s standard indecipherable vocals, Spinnerette certainlyboasts less in-your-face attitude, an early indicator of the band’s more minimal approach and the frontwoman’s change in personal fortunes. Thankfully Dalle’s ability to pen a memorable tune still remains and this current incarnation’s first long-player pays homage to the inherent pop sensibility hinted at on the three Distillers records.
Taking on more varied influences in the electronic and pop spheres, Spinnerette is the sound of a musician coming into their own, albeit in a more glossed up manner. -Distorting a Code’ and -Baptised by Fire’, in particular, both wear their electronic influences on their sleeve, with the former featuring less 40-fags a day vocals and in its place, a more angelic and harmonious one. -Sex Bomb’ is disappointing on first play but grows into something much more addictive. Despite the frequent, irritating robotic intonation of ‘sex bomb’, the tune is playful and contains sufficient musical swagger to pass off a certain cheesiness.
Lyrically speaking, Dalle occasionally walks the same path as in her more punk heyday, such as on -Driving Song’, a track featuring a return to husky vocals which are intoned over a low-key, pop melody. Unfortunately things are not always so strong on the lyrics front – -Geeking’ in particular contains some of the worst on the record in its banal opening lines while there is a distinct whiff of Europop in places on -Baptised By Fire’. Thankfully, this is not the case across the board with sassier, more fully realised numbers like -The Walking Dead’ forgiving Spinnerette for their momentary sins.
Despite the title, -Cupid’ has an element of menace which is barely voiced on the album yet is never far away. With a dark melody that is reinforced by jagged guitars, this tune sees Dalle’s scream queen potential resurrected for old times sake. Meanwhile, the fast and furious -All Babes Are Wolves’ is at turns poptastic singalong and angry oath, throwing the divergent strands of this project together into one melting pot. For those still unfamiliar with it, -Ghetto Love’ is undoubtedly the most fully realised number here, showing the full force and undeniable potential Spinnerette have. Comprised of soaring vocals and snarls meshed with sexy guitar hooks, this is a stellar number with bags of effortless attitude.
Dalle has expressed in interviews that she alone is Spinnerette and is merely joined by whichever musicians wish to come along for the ride. This sense of experimentation has infiltrated the album in parts, leading to a feeling that the pieces do not always fall exactly into the right place each time. This makes Spinnerette, the band and album, very much a work in progress but for the most part a very worthwhile and rewarding one all the same.