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The Dresden Dolls Review
Several years ago, for reasons unbeknownst to me, a small band by the name of “The Dresden Dolls” became quite popular in my small home town. The Dresden Dolls, which is made up by Amanda Palmer, who plays the piano, toy piano, and sings the vocals, as well as by Brian Viglione, who plays the drums and percussion. This two-person, cabaret band, despite being incredibly cacophonic at times, truly produces incredible music with stirring and fun lyrics.
Amanda Palmer’s vocalizing is beautiful, and her range is quite good as well. In songs such as “Good Day,” her range takes her from very high to extremely low, and she manages quite well. Vigione’s drumming and general percussion abilities are magnificent as well and do not distract or detract from any of the songs on this album. While the album may not be for everyone, for those who enjoy cabaret, alternative, rock or pop-rock, The Dresden Dolls’ self titled album undeniably merits a listen.
Lyrics such as “and when I’m brave enough/ and find a clever way to kick him out/ and I’m so high/ not even you and all your love could bring me down” (Half Jack) are moving and the song itself clearly depicts a woman who resents having so many people trying to make her into themselves. She fights to figure out who she really is and which parts of her are made up of others in her life, ultimately deciding that she will do whatever it takes to free her of the others and to be only herself. This especially is a song that leaves one feeling both empowered as well as a bit down.
“Coin-Operated Boy” is probably the most popular and most easily recognizable song on this album, and I’m sure that at almost every ‘girl’s night’ in existence, that the song has been played at least once. This song is about how she, the woman, is happily entertaining the thought of being able to go to a shop and pick up a sort of battery-operated boyfriend (no, not that kind, you pervs!) so that she no longer has to deal with the heartbreak of real relationships. Lyrics like “made of plastic/ and elastic/ he is rugged/ and long lasting/ who could ever, ever ask for more/ love without complications galore/ many shapes and weights to choose from/ I will never leave my bedroom/ I will never cry at night again/ wrap my arms around him and pretend” (Coin-Operated Boy) are ones that almost any woman can relate to after having gone through a tough relationship or a heartbreak or two. The music accompanying the lyrics of this song is upbeat and fun, mainly played on the piano and toy piano with a bit of light drumming in the background and Palmer’s voice is mostly playful and imaginative throughout.
There are a few heavier songs on the album which include “Biting” and “Slide.” “Slide” especially is dark, not only in the ominous drumming and piano music that it begins with, but also with Palmer’s voice painfully low, quite, and singing aggrieved lyrics about a girl’s molestation. “Her little girl cheeks start to wrinkle/ but her smile is wide and her legs are spread wider/…she’s thoroughly focused on one old man who’s laughing” (Slide) are just a few of the lyrics from this incredibly disturbing song, which, even without the terrifying lyrics, is still clearly recognizable as being a song about tragic happenings based solely upon the tone of the music itself.
Perhaps the most fun, though still somewhat sad song on this album is “The Jeep Song,” which is a song about someone who has just gone through a break-up and that who, every time they see a vehicle that resembles their ex’s, freaks out a little bit. Again, the music for this song, mostly played on the piano with eccentric drumming in the background, is very light and upbeat. Additionally, Palmer’s voice is somewhat higher than it is on most of the rest of the album, and is therefore more playful sounding. “After all that I’ve been through/ you’d think I’d hate the sight of you/ but with every Jeep I see/ my broken heart still skips a beat/ I guess it’s just my stupid luck/ that all of Boston drives the same black f#cking truck,” (The Jeep Song) are just a few of the fun and easy to relate to lines in this bubbly and fun to-sing-along-to song, where there are so many double meanings that it’s hard not to like it for what it is.
Overall, the album moderately long, with a total running time of fifty-six minutes and fifty-six seconds (55:56). Each of the twelve tracks on The Dresden Dolls’ self-titled album runs roughly at about four minutes long, which isn’t too bad as far as length goes. The songs tend to bounce back and forth between being soft and quiet to being louder and moderately cacophonic, so should you prefer one to the other, all you’d have to do is skip every other track. However, there is not a single song on this album that I do not care for, and most of the time when I listen to it, I do not skip from track to track, and instead I listen from beginning to end, especially as the album flows very well.
The bottom line is this; for anyone who enjoys listening to music that keeps them entertained, has catchy tunes with clever and memorable lyrics, this is the album for them. This album does have some cursing in it (clearly), so it is not recommended for those under the appropriate age to purchase such albums, and is certainly not intended for young children, but that is mainly due to the general message or nature of the album, which is one that is a bit darker than most. However, I do recommend this album to everyone out there who is willing to listen to something new and fun. I know that when I gave the band a chance that they ended up becoming one of my favorites, and it could happen to you, too!
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