Posted by: detourmag on June 29, 2007 at 8:20 am

THE DISTILLERS, Sing Sing Death House (Sire, 2003)
Sing Sing Death House is a curious record, a musical oddity with a growling identity crisis that’s caught somewhere between slobbering punk and pretty pop. Which, not coincidentally, is a place its motor — infamous punk chick and once-wife of Tim Armstrong Brody Dalle — also aligns herself. She’s a wild one, living her life in a blaze of tongue-studded, rip-me-to-shreds glory.

But behind Dalle’s war whooping and stickpin boiling, Sing Sing manages to interlude gracefully with catchy, almost pop-like melodies. The album’s two singles, “The Young Crazed Peeling” and “City of Angels,” need no assistance from the rest of the record to leave their mark as instances of concrete, unapologetic songwriting at its perkiest. And Dalle’s vocals — always ripped and ragged — are a perfect match for the band’s fierce guitar hooks and explosive drumming. The shit shatters glass. When Dalle isn’t making an attempt at crooning, she’s howling her lungs out with all the intensity of a wounded beast, gasping for its last breath of life. She is a woman spit on, bruised, scorned, and you know what they say about those types. That’s right, they compare them to Courtney Love. And while no one will deny the comparison, Dalle’s take on rage, drama, and peeling back the pretty deserves its own perch.

There was one more Distillers record after Sing Sing Death House. But this is the one where the wounds and hooks flowed best. — Emma Kat Richardson


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