Just say ‘yes’ to the Dresden Dolls

Ally Melling

The Dresden Dolls

Yes, Virginia

Released on Roadrunner Records.

Stater rating (out of five): ????

As the parents of the narrow “Brechtian cabaret punk” genre, The Dresden Dolls have been known as an acquired musical taste.

Their 2003 self-titled debut album gave listeners an earful of something even alternative rockers viewed as unusual. Singer Amanda Palmer throttled the keys of her piano with intensity rivaling Tori Amos, bitterly spinning tales of self-mutilation and strange relationships, while boyfriend Brian Viglione backed her up with voice and drums.

Now, The Dresden Dolls have donned the white face paint again to procure a second full-length album, titled Yes, Virginia.

Unlike different albums from artists such as Beck and The White Stripes, Yes, Virginia follows consistently with The Dresden Dolls’ sound and expands on Palmer’s topics of politics and sexuality.

The album title takes its name from a lyric in the song “Mrs. O,” which is the only song previously featured on The Dresden Dolls’ live album, ‘A’ is for Accident. This studio version, however, breathes new life into the haunting waltz about human denial.

“Sex Changes” and “Backstabber” provide a harsh and impressive introduction that alone are worth the price of the album.

Songs such as “My Alcoholic Friends” and “Mandy Goes to Med School” provide a playful, toe-tapping feel for lyrics about such serious subjects as addicts and back-alley abortions.

Though different in tempo, songs “Modern Moonlight” and the album’s first single, “Sing,” are the most tunefully forgettable tracks on the album. One is far too convoluted, and the latter seems like the Dolls’ answer to the generic ballad of inspiration.

Despite the couple unnecessary songs, the drumming seems much tighter and clearer here than on the first album. Palmer’s vocals are again gorgeous, but always on the brink of falling out of key. But it is this element that provides her voice with distinction and believable emotion that other modern singers lack.

For those already enamored of The Dresden Dolls, you will probably not like this album as well as the debut, but it will be on repeat in your players for weeks. For those who are unfamiliar with the band’s theatric sound and bold themes, this is a dish that will satisfy once you survive the initial bite.

Contact ALL correspondent Ally Melling at [email protected].