Heartbreak is difficult, to say the least. It has inspired countless songs, albums, films and books. One could say because heartbreak has given us these things it could almost be called a good thing. One who says that has never had his (or her) heart broken. It is nearly impossible to know what heartbreak is like unless you have actually had someone you depended on decide she (or he) didn’t need to be with you. Heartbreak comes in many forms, one could feel angry, spiteful or sad (or all three). The Dresden Dolls sophomore release Yes, Virginia is more or less an album based around the latter emotion.
The Dresden Dolls are a two piece band from Boston, MA. Arguably the best piano-based band in the land (sorry Keane), The Dolls’ debut was a masterpiece; it was epic, emotional, dark and beautiful. It was this album that brought The Dresden Dolls one of the largest cult fan bases on the east coast. Armed with Amanda Palmer’s furious vocals and piano playing, Brian Viglione’s wicked drum skills and two of the greatest producers of modern alternative, Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie (of Radiohead, The Pixies and Hole fame) The Dresden Dolls retreated to upstate New York with high expectations, to say the least on their shoulders. The Dolls and crew didn’t quite deliver to expectations (at least mine), but what they did give was an excellent record that grows on you with every listen.
My biggest problem with Yes, Virginia is the lack of the previously mentioned emotions. On Yes, Virginia Amanda Palmer just doesn’t seem as f u cked up, as scary or as sad. The songs (most of them) are less epic and less dramatic. These are all the qualities that made Dresden Dolls such a great record. Don’t get me wrong the emotion isn’t gone per say. There is just less of it. One of my favorite tracks Backstabber is also one of the most poppy tracks. It’s dramatic and emotional and just plain cool. One thing that is introduced on this record that is noticeably absent on the previous album is the harmonies. Brian and Palmer sound great singing together, almost like brother and sister.
One thing that I love about The Dresden Dolls lyrics is their honesty. When The Dresden Dolls talk about masturbating they don’t use clever metaphors like “Turning Japanese” on tracks like Shores of California . Amid the dark piano Palmer sings: Why all these conflicting specifications /Maybe to prevent overpopulation /All I know is that all around the nation /The girls are crying and the boys are masturbating /And that's the way it is in Minnesota /And that's the way it is in Oklahoma /That's the way Aristophanes and homer /Wrote the Iliad and Lysistrata (not in that order...). Not only are the lyrics honest they are also quite clever. The Dresden Dolls have the ability to make up amazing fantasy lyrics that you know aren’t true but you can’t help but wonder. Such is the case on Mandy Goes to Med School arguably the most f***ed up song on the album. The lyrics place Palmer in the position of a back-alley abortionist. Yes I can do everything you need from out of my new SUV /All my work is guaranteed to last the length of your recovery /Put away those pliers honey trust me cause I know the options /How about a nine-month long vacation and a two-foot coffin . Who else do you know that can paint that evil of a picture with their lyrics? Also used on this song is Palmer’s cabaret influences. The piano wouldn’t be out of place in a black and white film and the drums are nothing short of great.
Both Dresden Dolls’ CDs have at least one perfect pop song. On their s/t it’s the quirky yet cool “Coin-Operated Boy”. On this CD it’s the closer Sing . If one looked at just the lyrics on Sing and compared them to Mandy Goes to Med School you would think you were hearing two different bands. With Brian switching from drums to acoustic guitar the first single is heart felt and catchy. The piano is great and is accented perfectly by the acoustic guitar. And when the drums come in the album comes to a final peak. The last few minutes of the song is virtually perfect with Brian and Amanda singing a great harmony and in between Amanda singing Life is No Cabaret the album comes to an epic end. And I can think of no better way to end it.
[u] Recommended Tracks [/i]
Me & The Mini-bar
Originally Posted by The letter that inspired the title and some of the album
Dear Editor- I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, If you see it in The Sun, it's so. Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus? Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Good writing but I disagree with some of this review. I don't find the piano or the drumming to be that efficent. I find them sort of bland and dull, and I don't beleive that they are both "great." I've never really liked the Dresdon Dolls, because I think they're trying to be different just to be different.
When i first heard the songs via live proformaces, i was glad that they where going to be recorded (as songs like Sex Changes, and Necessary Evil are amazing live). But what i found was a let down.
This album is good. But could be better. For example, there are better versons of Backstabber around (look at some of the radio proformaces of it), but all in all it is a good album, but has nothing on there 2nd album (the self titled). For it dose not live up to all my expectations.
My personal picks are: Sex Changes, Shores of California and Me & The MinibarThis Message Edited On 04.20.06
This album didn't quite hit me at first as anything too special, but over the course of a few days and after many repeated listenings...this album has really grew on me. I don't think it is quite as good as their previous effort, but it definately holds its ground and is a worthy follow up.