Experimental Music Love

January 8, 2008

Dresden Dolls – Yes, Virginia 18/04/06

Filed under: Album Reviews — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 6:56 pm

After greatly impressing with their fun gothic tendencies on their eponymous debut 2 years ago, Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione return with an even greater abundance of rock theatrics.


The Dolls describe themselves as punk cabaret and this is a somewhat apt description for whats on display here. Theres an angry bite behind tracks like Backstabber and Dirty Business yet, unlike so many bands out there, Dresden Dolls dont fall into the trap of being too serious and just sounding ridiculous for it.


Palmers lyrics are full of aggressive bile, but theres always an underlying sense of humour there. The likes of Sex Changes and First Orgasm are laced with irony with the accompanying jaunty piano tones underpinning the sense of fun that is at the heart of this album. Even the titles of the tracks display the overt fondness of sex and sexuality that the Dolls embrace, knocking down all barriers and taboos on their way, as they express their hedonistic individuality.



The cabaret part comes from the sheer grandeur of the songs. Far from subtle, its hard to believe that most of what is heard is solely Palmers piano and Vigliones drum kit. Take heed Keane, simple instruments can sound impressive and entertaining.Palmers childhood dreams of Broadway are evident as her pounding piano chords soar, so over the top its easy to imagine them filling an auditorium.


Where this album differs from their debut is in its consistency. Whereas on Dresden Dolls, a few tracks dragged on or unnecessary filler slowed down the pace, once this album starts on the upbeat Sex Changes there is no letting up. If My Alcoholic Friends isnt making you sprightly tap your feet, then Delilah is making you fall in love with Palmers voice. And her voice is sounding a lot stronger. Though not as operatic as the music, her range has improved and she sounds even more passionate and heated without the slightest hint that shes losing control.


And her vocal chords reach their peak on closing ballad Sing. Her zeal for her command shows in earnest as she belts out for everyone to Sing for the president
Sing for the terrorists, sing.


But its Shores of California that shows Dresden Dolls at their best. A tale of the differences between men and women when it comes to what they want from a relationship (“all I know is that all around the nation the girls are crying and the boys are masturbating”) it shows the Dolls can do pop as well as anyone. The happy piano rhythms bring to mind the carefree, sun shining fun of the eponymous state. the girls are crying and the boys are masturbating”) it shows the Dolls can do pop as well as anyone. The happy piano rhythms bring to mind the carefree, sun shining fun of the eponymous state.


And thats what this album is about fun. And a lot of it. Fun with sex, fun with strangers, fun with being yourself, fun with everybody else. Its title even comes from The Suns answer to a query by an 8 year old girl called Virginia inquiring as to the whether Santa Claus existed. The Dolls want to music to have the same effect on people as the idea of Santa has on the hopes of a little girl. And they succeed. An early contender for album of the year.



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