on 3 January 2008
When I was around 14 a friend of mine told me about a really great song I just had to hear, the song was 'girl anachronism' and the band was The Dresden Dolls, I bought the album and it changed my musical taste completely (for the better of course!)
I'm 17 now and this album currently occupies slot No. 2 in the converted 'top 5' slots in my CD rack.
Personally this album has everything I would want in one, passion, talent, Brilliant lyrics and a healthy sprinkle of psychosis; all wrapped up it becomes one of the best musical purchases I've ever made. Indeed at some points it's hard to believe all that sound is coming from just a voice, a piano, and some drums.
Recommended to absolutely everyone who has an open mind about music; I would imagine the dolls are a love it or hate it affair, but, if you feel like a break from all that radio 1, over produced and over hyped crap and a new refreshing addition to your music collection, you aren't likely to get better.
on 30 January 2012
The Dresden Dolls have been defying categorisation for the best part of a decade. Here's a track-by-track breakdown of their eponymous debut.
`Good Day' sneaks up like a mugger in a dark alley - the single keys and lullaby-like entry into the revenge threat simmers menacingly throughout, before ascending to a crescendo of thumping notes and wailing vocals. Brian Viglione's drumming doesn't stand out quite so much against Amanda Palmer's vocals and piano, but it's still a promising opener to a rip-snorter of an album to come. The glorious howl of `I'M ON FIRE' at the chorus is an absolute joy, a shower-song for even the most reticent listener.
This is more like it - a frenetic piano loop backed by a scurry of fearsome drum work and a vocal velocity suggestive of one hell of a pair of lungs. Thoroughly tongue-in-cheek, it's one of the finest explorations of the troubled-female in music. Palmer's lyrics tick all the boxes of mental illness, whilst managing to be witty and smart about it. Think Prozac Nation set to music, only far less time consuming and not the slightest bit whiny.
This follows a similar pattern to `Good Day', but takes a little longer to get going. A slow, seductive, sibilant entry and an undercurrent of threat running under several verses giving way to a raucous, stomping finale and a howling demand - `Say you miss me!' In the hands of any other female performer this would have risked coming off as demanding and petulant, but the overall critical, sneering tone of the song keeps Palmer in the driver seat, voicing orders, not questions.
This is a puzzle: it's either a song about hermaphrodites, transvestism, dual personalities, the odd relationships between twins (or, indeed, couples) or something else altogether. The enigma doesn't detract from the pleasures to be had, though: a melancholy, tentative touch with the piano and drums runs under a meditation on the problems of identity, performativity, alterations of self via surgery and medication, interspersed with a thundering chorus over which Palmer's personality crisis soars.
There's not much to be said - a dreamy interlude over which Palmer recites the number. No information is yet available as to why these figures are significant - if anyone knows, please feel free to comment.
The arcade-game jingles and Oz-like imagery, Palmer's way with a pun and the odd squeak of a rubber duck may impute a song taking itself nowhere near seriously, the lyrics on surface-level suggesting a paean to masturbation and sex toys, but it has a far richer core. The melancholic finale, at which Palmer pleads for love and understanding, sites the song as a critique of the selfishness of individuals and the difficulties of navigating any relationship at all. It's a deceptively clever song: great for analysis and depth of thought, but equally suited to dancing to.
A doom-laden, noirish opening gives way to choruses underlaid with sexily scattered drumming and muted piano lines. Palmer reinforces the darkness with a snarl in her voice, outlining the problems of remaining upright and functioning. The soaring chorus puts paid to any charges of self-pity - strong, heavy drumming and confident piano work, a bridge at which Palmer's vocals truly let rip, plus an ironic spoken-word interlude (`You can do it') makes of the song a glorious if brutal exploration of the psyche.
Palmer's flair for juxtaposition crops up again: this time using chirpy piano work that wouldn't be out of place in a musical to take the listener through a day in the life of a self-harmer. Palmer's strident vocals drag this track far from the self-pitying drone of many other songs on the subject, and it's relative brevity - packing clipped vocals into just over three minutes - makes of it a breathless rampage, a sharp and incisive glance into a mind troubled but no less willing to express itself.
The Perfect Fit
The tone dims a little, here, as a quiet piano tinkle underscores a poetic interrogation of a self unable to ever feel good enough. The brilliance of the lyrics is let down somewhat by music that verges on being a little dull, at times, but there's a reward as the finale soars to an explosive climax worth the slightly drowsing nature of the rest of the song.
The Jeep Song
The perfect driving song, obviously. A windswept, thoughtful reflection on a broken relationship perfectly merges the melancholic with the ironic, as the tempo shifts from the lull of the verses to the thumping glory of the chorus. There's even a bit of ba-ba-ba fifties-style backing vocal, just to keep the spirits up.
Another low-key track in which the lyrics take precedent. A twisted fairy tale of a child interrupted in the midst of her fun by a mysterious older man, the tinkling, hypnotic nature of the music perfectly suits the sly creep of the lyrics, coming to a terrifying climax in a crash of piano keys, bass drum and keening vocals. Possibly the track on the album taking itself the most seriously, with the exception of `Truce,' below.
This finely-wrought oration from one lover to another following a break-up is set to a piano line and drum pattern as dignified as it is sorrowful, at times attaining levels of engagement best described as epic. Verses take the form of Palmer trading places of association with her ex - `You can have Washington/I'll take New Jersey' - with the occasional personal detail threaded in at points of regret, as when she promises `If we should meet through some misunderstanding, I'll be very sweet, very patient...' The pain in Palmer's voice is palpable, the sweet-sad piano backed by dignified drumming and the odd elegiac violin interlude. True to form, the end of the song is a transcendent, glittering swoop of anger, as the singer tires of placating and gives voice to her discontents. A staggering conclusion to a remarkable album.
The Dresden Dolls is one of the most unique, creative and transformative releases of the decade. Get hold of a copy as soon as you can, crank the volume up loud enough to bother the neighbours and just try not to find yourself dancing.
on 18 October 2006
Like many others I got into the Dolls through their hit Coin-Operated Boy. Whilst that is probably the most accessable song on this album it is far from the best.
The album, like Amanda Palmers sultry, provocative voice is a rollercoaster of music. The song, Good Day is possibly one of the strongest openers of any album i've ever heared. A quiet, moody song about a girl who's just broken up with her partner which slowly builds to a triumphal realisation that she is 'on fire' with joy and liberty.
Girl Anarchronism is possibly the scariest song you will hear, tormented scattering of hate, dispair and deep dark humour sung with such ferocity you imagine Palmer being straight-jacket bound and screaming.
Missed Me is possibly the most sinister of the songs. Sung in a caberet style, almost like a striptease of music but with the provocative lyrics of a young girl talking to a paedophile. This could almost be titled Lolitas song.
Half Jack is most similar to a heavily orchestrated 'Zombie' by the Cranberries. Dark and yet redeeming at the same time. Wonderful in lyrics and style but at 5:15 does seem to drag a little.
672 is an instrumental/vocal piece, not really a song, but a nice filler to seperate the darker first part of the album from the more upbeat second. Kick started with...
Coin Operated Boy, the most humerous song on the album. A really good intro to the style of music the Dresden Dolls try to achieve. I'm sure this song has a huge female following and its easy to see why!
Gravity is a punky-piano piece with a rolling bass line and clunky keyboards not to mention some fantastic drums. The song degenerates into an orgy of soundbites underpinned by Palmers angsty and explosive vocals.
Bad Habit is another mad-dash similar to Girl Anachronism. What always suprises me about the Dolls is that whilst it could be argued that the vocals are the mainpoint there is an equal balance of piano that complements it almost exactly rather than playing second fiddle to the powerful vocal work. Best example of this is on this song.
The Perfect Fit starts slowly on piano in a very dreamy whistful way with the accomponyment of chimes and bells adding to the dreamy atmosphere. Its possibly about an overwhelming situation, maybe drug abuse, and it takes a while to get going but it worth the listen.
The Jeep Song is one of the poppy on the album. Not my favourite and very over orchestrated and a bit disappointing although I can see why some people will like it. Like Coin Operated Boy on 1980's happy pills. More like the sort of stuff The Divine Comedy does. I don't think it quite suits the Dresden Dolls to do this type of thing.
Slide is a lyrical masterpiece, comparing life to a slide ending in the ultimate 'orangeman' who pretends to catch you. Quite a moving song, eerie and spectoral. The layering of voices add to the restrained urgency that underpins the song. An extended metaphor played to some rather beautiful and haunting piano.
Truce is a fantastic 9 minute epic ending song obscure and abstrace. A deconstruction of world politics;
"We can split germany right down the middle
You'd hate it there anyway
Take berlin and we'll call it even "
Which morphs into a disconcerting love ballad;
"you call it over and i call you psycho
significant other? just say we were lovers!
And we'll call it even, we'll call it even."
A political scholar could have a field-day with this song and it is one of the most lyrically obscure but also muscially varied on the album. Fantastic in the most literal sense of the word.
'Amanda, you're telling me a fairytale...' - Truce 8 mins 25 seconds
on 15 July 2004
This album deserves a lot more praise than it's getting. The Dresden Dolls are one of the most original bands I've heard in a long while, and not easily comparable to anything else. 'Half Jack' is one of the highlights, as is 'coin-operated boy' which will appeal to anyone with a dark sense of humour. I think the title's pretty self-explanatory.
If you're interested I recommend you visit their website, [...] as not only will it introduce you to their magical world of punk cabaret or whatever you want to call it, you can also listen all the way through to I think 5 of their tracks. Do it, do it now, then come back and buy the album!!! (I realise its not available here, but you know...look around. i think [...] has it)