The Dresden Dolls – Dresden Dolls

The Dresden DollsDresden Dolls (Roadrunner)

On the Dresden Doll’s self-titled debut, singer/pianist Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione (former performance artists from Boston) use vivid imagery and a theatric stage show to accentuate the Brechtian influence that corresponds with goth, punk, and riot-grrrrl throughout the album. As much inspired by Marlene Dietrich as PJ Harvey and Tori Amos, Dresden Dolls is refreshing as much for its distinct flavor as for the depth of character in the songs within (written by Palmer). “Coin-Operated Boy” is a bouncy, manic piece of odd theatric pop about a difficult girl in love with a plastic boy. It’s the coy counterpart to the much more schizophrenic “Girl Anachronism” (mp3), which alternates shrieks and whispers in galvanizing fashion. Palmer crams syllables and bitter sentiments into arrhythmic patterns that ricochet from Viglione’s drums. Images of vaudeville characters and swooning choreography are omnipresent.

But while remaining a refreshing brand of dark piano pop, The Dresden Dolls can’t seem to avoid painting themselves into a corner. Palmer would be better served expanding her lyricism to compliment the broad palette of the band’s arrangements, as it’d be shame to see a band as competent be relegated to niche status. Gimmickry is merely temporary, and if the band can seem to universalize the themes of their songs while retaining the diversity of their sound they’d be capable of creating some stunning work. As it stands, Dresden Dolls is a delectable throwback to the culture of Weimar cabaret, set as the background to the cerebral musings of a talented songwriter.

6 thoughts on “The Dresden Dolls – Dresden Dolls”

  1. Um…I’m not so sure that “Coin-Operated Boy” is about a plastic boy – at least not an entire plastic boy. More like, um, just a certain part of a plastic boy. With, uh, batteries. Yeah.

  2. The music sounds like it should be part of some Broadway show. I can see singer twirling around the stage tearing up the bedroom set during Girl Anachronism. It all seems really gimmicky to me

  3. i saw these guys live and wow, just amazing. really the most intelligent cabaret band ever advised, witty lyrics, a voice and tune. it is all here.

  4. No…its not about a dildo. they say so themselves. “coin operated boy” is about lonliness…

    i supose they do ahev an edge of gimmickyness to them, its undenaible, but i dont think its bad and maybe they will lose it as there band matures…???

    they are good though, you have to give em that… :)

    im glad there songs are about boring stuff (or as they put it in a song “soppy songs about sex and cheating bland accounts of two lovers meeting”)they sing about random things and personal things and i think thats good…

    i dont like they way they dress up. well i do. but it promotes the wrong image…so i dont.

    there songs vary quite a lot dont they?

    i like there stuff like “half jack” and “the perfect fit” and “sex changes” the more…the more… whatever that sorta thing.

    i think i should just shut up now im boring you and i doubt anyone reading this.

  5. This band is one of the most original and full of raw musical power to come along this decade.

    As for being gimmicky I think that is excusable in their case because they do categorize themselves as Punk Cabaret. They are cabaret they will dress up, it is a show, it is theater. It is unfair in a way to discredit them for this when they are not intending to be a conventional rock band.

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