It arrives without warning. An undulating bass line shoulders its way in, closely followed by accents from the guitar section. Then, Brody Dalle stokes the coals, opens her mouth and the most gravelly vocal rolls out. Spinnerette’s eponymous debut is all about impact. The pace abates after seven minutes and two songs of steady rocking, but the real question remains: Can they keep this up over a whole album?
Thankfully, the opening one-two punch is alone in its undiluted hard rock roots. Let’s talk about tactical album track listing. Spinnerette truly embrace the concept, sidestepping first album woes with consummate ease. They unleash the anthemic “Ghetto Love”, an untouchable mix of confrontational lyrics and a monster bass line. Shock and awe, indeed. They then follow it up with “All Babes Are Wolves”, which runs thick with 90’s-esque guitar effects, a whirlwind of sound erupting from the opening gunshots.
There is, however, a lot more to be said of this album, and after grabbing your attention, the band intelligently begin to change up the formula. “Cupid” signifies a change of tempo, but the delivery is no less assured. The screams transform into a drawl, grating against the processed samples which begin to work their way into the record.
The pedigree is fully in check — vocalist Brody Dalle and co-founder Tony Bevilacqua were an essential pairing in The Distillers, and that partnership still works wonders. Spinnerette have been unfairly stereotyped as a token punk rock band. In reality, this is a musical venture that runs in opposite direction to The Distillers’ harsher music. Touring musicians have been sourced from Queens Of The Stone Age, Red Hot Chili Peppers and other staple bands. Talent on tap, you might say.
Brody Dalle recently married — and had a child with — Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age, and their fingerprints are all over this record. You only need look at the cover art to see the comparison, a clear copy of QOTSA’s first record. Dalle’s beau has clearly been doling out lessons in song structure- one of the best uses of the build in a long while, “Baptized By Fire” is powered by brilliantly placed melody, mandolin and synths. This is far more than a ‘punk record’.
Their full length debut could have been very different. Spinnerette have enjoyed their fair share of record label troubles, having been signed to Sire Records but later negotiating their way out of the contract and then signing with Anthem Records to release their debut. The Ghetto Love EP was released in December 2008, but three of the tracks have been left off their full length. “Distorting The Code” graduated to their album alongside “Ghetto Love”, and sees the band heavily edit the audio, reversing and chopping the vocals to enhance the psychedelic feel. Bevilacqua deserves a medal, as he takes the guitar to new places.
You might expect Dalle to have settled into domesticity and toned down her punk roots, but you would be sorely mistaken. Whilst the record is certainly more controlled and polished than The Distillers’ efforts — as a combination of sweetness and unkempt rage — there are still moments of punk, namely “Geeking” and “Sex Bomb”. These don’t have as much weight as you might expect, the importance of old traded in for ‘having fun.’
Dalle’s voice is now a weapon. She has traded in the screams for melody, keeping it mostly in check until the bizzaro improvisation section during “A Prescription For Mankind”, the album closer.
This album is quality, and a lot of thought has obviously gone into its creation. Where the Distillers embraced the rawness of their music, Spinnerette throw a curveball, embracing the more polished side of the music. And what a pleasant surprise it is.