The Distillers | Coral Fang | Sire

The Distillers are named after whiskey makers, and in the past their music has gone down about as smoothly.

Coral Fang is mostly a mat for Brody Dalle’s vocal gymnastics as she tries to sell each song with the strength and versatility of her pipes. She’s got some definite strength – on some songs she busts out a rough growl most men couldn’t reproduce, and on another she breathes out a smooth accompaniment to an acoustic guitar intro before going into a wild banshee scream.

Unfortunately, Brody’s vocal strength is matched by her mediocrity as a songwriter. On “The Gallow Is God,” she sings, “Oh how my heart it sings suicide / Oh how my gallow sinks of black dye / Oh how my death march brings a tear to your eye / Oh how the noose it swings when you die.” I get that this is supposed to be sad, but does anyone know what she’s talking about?

The choruses are mostly repetitive, heavily produced harmonies over standard crunchy punk power chords, and the verses come off a little phony. Brody draws out the syllables and heavily slurs her words for no apparent reason – she’s not going exceptionally fast, the lyrics aren’t that complex, and she’s not even an ex-smack fiend like her old husband, marble-mouthed Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong.

On a few songs, Brody’s voice and a steady pace make for some good, energy-packed rock ‘n’ roll. On others, the Distillers try to play the super-punks and lay the distortion on everything from the drums to the vocal. But most of the songs just blur together, and the whiskey makers end up with a record that packs no more punch than a watered-down margarita.

[Travis Hunter knows that the best distilling happens under a tin roof in Lynchburg, Tennessee .]