Thursday, May 15, 2008

no virginia by the dresden dolls

A year and a half after their sophomore album Yes Virginia, The Dresden Dolls return with an album of outtakes: the cleverly titled No Virginia (out May 20th). Really guys? Three studio albums into your career and you’re already sending me mixed messages? I don’t know what to believe anymore. My existential angst is somewhat quenched by the fact No Virginia doesn’t sound anything like a disk of extras thrown out to capture fan paychecks not already consumed by rising gas prices. Instead we’re given a disk of top shelf songs, the loud, brash and clever follow up I only wish Yes Virginia could have been (even if it did spawn the world’s funniest music video). Either the Dresden Dolls refuse to own up to recording duds, or else they should offer Ryan Adams their editing assistance.

No Virginia abandons its precursor's singular obsession with the failure of modern day relationships, instead hovering in a world of Grimm's Fairly Tales - the twisted, uncut versions your parents never read you, tales where Santa...well yeah. Sorry Virginia. In the Dolls' capable punk cabaret hands, otherwise innocent images take on nerve-wracking, Epic Theater implications. A legless girl sits lonely in her room waiting for signs from the outside world, hit scripts go unsold, a gardener waits to collect an unspeakable fee...then there's that pesky organist with a wandering eye and a sinister agenda. Theirs is a rose-filled wonder world, complete with plenty of thorns.

Of course reality isn't far behind. In a tribute to pubescent angst, they unflinchingly delve into what might be the scariest world of all...high school, a terror filled experience never encapsulated better than the mournful wail of vocalist Amanda Palmer’s voice on the Psychedelic Furs cover, “Pretty In Pink.”

With a title rooted in realism, it's surprising yet fitting for the output of two genre-bucking musicians that No Virgina offers an abundance of fanciful lyrics and strange, occasionally abrasive, yet always innovative and interesting instrumental choices. (It never ceases to amaze me that two people can make that much noise.) Slaying childhood fantasies has never been so much fun.

(photo Dresden Dolls: Pixie)

mp3: "Night Reconnaissance" by The Dresden Dolls
mp3: "Backstabber (live on KCRW)" by The Dresden Dolls (studio version on Yes Virginia)

1 comment:

Scar said...

Gotta love the Dresden Dolls! :)