Sound — 7
Having taken a few pages from the iconic lady-rocker/loose cannon Courtney Love, Brody Dalle was a proven force in the world of punk early on. Marrying the highly-esteemed punk-rocker Tim Armstrong of Rancid in 1997 (when she was 18), Brody would also start her most notable punk rock band, The Distillers, and the Armstrongs would bring forth their own dynasty in the world of punk rock. This dynasty would not last, as Brody and Tim would end up getting divorced in 2003, which was also the year The Distillers would release their final, and most acclaimed, album, "Coral Fang" - things got worse, as the many that took Tim's side in the divorce chastised and blacklisted Brody and The Distillers, and Brody's drug addiction at the time would only amplify the misery of things falling apart. However, after getting married to Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme and having two kids with him, Brody would climb out from the aforementioned rock-bottom with more strength and resolve as a result. A year after her first child was born, Brody went on to create her follow-up band, Spinnerette, in order to get back into the music scene - though the project would end up being shelved in 2010. Brody would once again fall out of the music scene for a few years while raising her second child, but with her brand new solo album, "Diploid Love," being released, it comes to show that Brody wasn't taking downtime; she was busy preparing to re-emerge back onto the scene.
With Brody Dalle's return to the music world, a new chapter is chronicled - both in her own life and in her life as a musician. The album starts off with the hard rock/punk edge that fans of her earlier work were hoping for, and while "Rat Race" comes off as a shoulder-shrugging warm-up, "Underworld" and "Don't Mess With Me" contain some great energy; with strong bass-lines, razor-sharp guitars, and lively drum-lines. "Underworld" also contains something more than just the raw punk essence of Brody's early days: halfway through the song, some brass instruments enter and give the song a bit of a ska flavor to it, but the horns in fact foreshadow the song transforming into a Mariachi-inspired song at the end - this transformation would also foreshadow the fact that the album is more than just Brody's next batch of punk tunes.
"Dressed in Dreams" shifts the energy down a bit and explores a starry-eyed shoegaze style, with fuzzy bass and cloudy, reverbed guitar-lines, and "Carry On" brings forth the first ballad of the album, being spearheaded by piano chords, but the peppy drum-machine, guitars and bass keep the song from feeling dull. The shoegaze influence comes back with "Meet the Foetus/On the Joy," where Brody's sedated vocals are accompanied with a distorted drum-machine, a constant bass rhythm and more heavily-effected guitars, but then jumps into a double-time punk riff at the second half of the song.
"I Don't Need Your Love" is the other ballad on the album that starts in an even lower gear than "Carry On," and while the track slowly (very slowly) progresses into some more active instruments, it fails to captivate, and the end result doesn't feel like six minutes well spent. "Blood in Gutters" picks the energy back up again, and while still sticking to a slow and steady tempo, the buzzy, rough-textured guitars and bass grabs your attention after it wandered away during "I Don't Need Your Love," and the final track, "Parties for Prostitutes," starts off with an electro-pop flavor - dominated by a drum-machine and a synthetic organ melody - but then brings one last burst of punk energy at the final minute of the song for a satisfying closer.
Lyrics — 7
Brody Dalle had shared in interviews that the subject matter in "Diploid Love" was much more personal compared to the songs she wrote with The Distillers as a punkster sneering at society. "Meet the Foetus/On the Joy" deals with Brody's thoughts, feelings, and outlook towards life as a mother, "Dressed in Dreams" and "Carry On" brings forth lyrics embedded in Brody's rock-bottom era of her life, and it's not hard to figure out that "I Don't Need Your Love" is connected to Brody's turbulent relationship and marriage to Tim Armstrong. But even if you take the girl out of punk, you can't take the punk out of the girl, and Brody attempts to write some punk-oriented lyrics to accompany the punk-style songs like "Rat Race," "Underworld" and "Don't Mess With Me"; and while "Rat Race" and "Don't Mess With Me" come off as half-hearted attempts at being unapologetically punk, "Underworld" contains some nice imagery and narrative.
Overall Impression — 8
For nine tracks, "Diploid Love" accomplishes quite a lot of things. The most obvious is being Brody Dalle's initiative to travel out from the circle of punk rock and create an album that contains a good amount of genre exploration. The album also manages to be Brody's most personal album that displays her songwriting focused inward rather than outward. Most importantly, though, is that "Diploid Love" chronicles Brody's life. As the album starts off being loud and rambunctious, the album soon folds out into different soundscapes and shows deeper, more vulnerable emotions, and then regains its energy - which mirrors how Brody's life was as a young punk-rocker, the fallout that came from that former life, and her success in rising above the hardships she had faced with a new lease on life. As the album ends with the final minute of punk rock, Brody indicates to the listener that while she may want to do several different things, she'll never turn her back on punk. It's not a flawless album, but it's pretty damn good.