CAMBRIDGE — “I don’t really like to talk much onstage, ’cause I’m kinda shy,” Brody Dalle said to a rapturous crowd at the Sinclair near the end of her compact solo set on Monday. “But thank you.” Dalle might feel shy onstage but, as a frontwoman, the former leader of the aggro-punk Distillers has a magnetic star quality whether she’s using her caustic, strangled yowl to propel breakneck tracks like her former band’s “Sick of It All” or fiery rock anthems like “Don’t Mess With Me.”
“Mess” appears on “Diploid Love,” Dalle’s first solo album, a compact collection about love and death and the big dreams that fall in between. While “Mess” is a straightforward yet exhilaratingly dark singalong that doubles as a warning shot to any comers, “Diploid” also contains left turns like the gloomy waltz “Parties for Prostitutes.” It digs deep inside, finding chaos but also peace among razor-sharp riffs.
Things progressed at a mosh-pit pace for most of the night, with the crowd singing — and, as Dalle approvingly noted, dancing — along with Distillers tracks and a cover of the Misfits’ twisted love song “Hybrid Moments.” About midway through the show, Dalle announced, “We’re gonna slow it down a little bit — we’re gonna get sexy. We’re gonna sing about fetuses and [expletive].”
The band then launched into “Meet the Foetus/ Oh the Joy,” a blackly funny track off “Diploid Love” about how pre-partum attachments explode into motherly euphoria. Its first half is a sing-song fuzz-goth track that probes the entwined relationship between mother and child; then, after Dalle sings “it’s time to meet the fetus,” the music starts to shimmer, briefly, before speeding up and turning into a showcase for whooped proclamations of love.
Dalle’s three band members were laser-focused, putting her ability to turn seemingly disparate strands into a snarling, cohesive whole front and center. Her fusing of the dark scuzz of gutter-punk with the white light of new motherhood, not to mention the aggressive stance of a great frontperson and haltingly expressed shyness, helps make her a vital, questioning voice in a rock landscape that too often is satisfied with easy answers.Maura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.