Brody's Screaming Fucking Bloody Mess of Antique Grunge

With 2002's Sing Sing Death House, the Distillers, led by Brody (then-Mrs. Tim) Armstrong, became Hole to Rancid's Nirvana in the coolest way possible. Brody matched Mrs. Cobain's timbre, but with bitter sardonicism replaced by earnestness and a defiantly determined, joyous lyrical perspective. The band used Rancid's camaraderie-signifying sound as a template; more bands should.

You may not always want to be an Armstrong, though, as Brody's name change to Dalle proves. Not only does Coral Fang avoid Cali-punk tempo shifts, but Dalle's lyrics are cryptic and wounded instead of direct and defiant. The change is harrowing at first—the haunted wails on "Dismantle Me" make you want to slap that thug-posin' Transplant—but not only are the lyrical images repetitive ("Die On A Rope" leads into "The Gallow Is God"), the liner note artwork gets the point across before song one. Unless your divorce papers haven't finalized either, expect to be anxious for Dalle to start smirking again. Didn't grunge already give us enough unchecked angst?

Strong hooks remain, and some of the old-school alt-ness can be blamed on producer Gil Norton's Foo Fightin' stylee, but the endless-if-not- nameless "Deathsex" reaffirms that the '90s fixation is mainly Brody's. After two minutes the song descends into the kind of interminable feedback we haven't heard since Sonic Youth admitted they were old, while the rhythm section—no fans of Alternative Nation—pummels in vain to get the song started again. Such previously unthinkable bullshit helps make Coral Fang the loudest album Kristin Hersh never recorded. They aren't done for (be kind, Josh Homme!) but those who looked at the Distillers as the hope of 2003 might be disappointed that Dalle's stuck in 1994.

 
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