Review Summary: This album contains one of the worst songs I have ever heard. Fortunately for the band, they make up for it through several good songs which are a joy to listen to.
To begin with, I’ll say that I first thought Brody Dalle was a guy. The first ever Distillers song I listened to was The Hunger, and I actually thought it was a guy singing until I discovered it wasn’t. I wonder how many cigarettes Dalle smoked in order to sound like this. I admit, I listened to Coral Fang before this album, and I actually like it more. I’ll probably be slandered for saying so, but it just has a more organized sound and isn’t all over the place like Sing, Sing Death House is. But that’s just me; punk has never been my ‘calling’. I don’t like its simplicity.
The first thing to note is that Dalle’s music always has that rough punk intensity, but still contains a decent amount of melody. This was more apparent on Coral Fang, but if you look behind the washed out, thrashy punk sound, Sing, Sing Death House has enough melody to keep it interesting for those who don’t listen to punk very often (like me). However, this album still falls to the same problem that affects a lot of punk: really crappy songs. There are only a very few punk albums that have that timeless, ever-lasting quality, the rest of them are good for a certain amount of time before they get forgotten. Sing, Sing Death House is not so bad, but I definitely don’t rush home everyday looking forward to listening to it.
Musically, the album is decent, relative to punk music. The drumming is pretty good, but basic and the guitars are quite decent too. What I liked most was the bass; you can hear it in pretty much every song, and I just loved listening to it. I absolutely hated the song ‘Bullet and the Bullseye’, but in the first 10 seconds the bass sounds really good. The same goes for the numerous other instances where the bassist is just grooving away, with or without Dalle moaning in to the microphone.
However, those moans drive this album: with Dalle’s hoarse screams, her echoed whoa oh’s, and her not so great singing, she is the essence of the band. Don’t take poor singing as a negative though, her vocal delivery is perfect for the album, she just isn’t a very good singer. Her presence on the album stopped me from giving this a 2. Whether she is singing anthem-like choruses such as the one in ‘City of Angels’, of if she’s trying to tear her throat out like in the title track, she definitely lets people know that she’s the wild girl of the punk scene. The one complaint I have about her is that she sometimes sounds a bit stupid. I’ll mention the song ‘Bullet and the Bullseye’ again, as it’s the first one that comes to mind. In order to make ‘bullet’ rhyme with ‘hit’ she pronounces ‘bullet’ as ‘bull-i-it’. I thought it sounded pretty stupid. And I just really, really hate that song.
The album overall has some very good songs on it. Examples would be ‘I am a Revenant’, ‘Sing, Sing Death House’, and ‘City of Angels’. The biggest let-down is that alongside these songs, are some of the worst songs I have ever heard. As you already know, ‘Bullet and the Bullseye’ is one of them, along with ‘Desperate’, and ‘Lordy, Lordy’. The rest of the songs fell somewhere in between. The simple fact that ‘Bullet and the Bullseye’ was on this record stopped me from giving it a rating above 3. It’s got to be one of my least favourite songs, ever.
‘I am a Revenant’ is a very nice song, with great melody and a pace that makes me bob my head up and down. It’s driven very much by Brody singing the verses, punctuated by a delightfully melodic lead guitar. The title track though, is the complete opposite. About half the length, it’s a short burst of fury that doesn’t relent beating your face in until the minute and forty-four seconds is over. It’s probably my favourite track on the album. Sadly, ‘Bullet and the Bullseye’ comes straight after it. You’ll never escape it. The rest of the album follows very much the example set by these two songs. It’s either catchy, melodic tunes, or raw punk-like aggression. There is a good balance between the two sounds, and this works in the albums favor.
Overall, this is a decent sophomore effort that is let down by some horrid tracks. I quite enjoy the few good tracks on here, but as an album it doesn’t achieve very much other than pave the way for The Distillers’ next release.
- Several good songs
- Brody’s voice
- I liked the bass
- Several terrible songs
- Brody’s voice
- Simplistic, therefore inferior in my eyes
Sing, Sing Death House
I am the Revenant
City of Angels