Anything described as Brechtian or punk cabaret should set off whooping alarm bells, especially when the description is applied to the debut album of a largely unknown Goth-ish duo from Boston.
Okay, it’s not Brechtian, but it’s a lot of mad, angry, rock fun with enough solo piano and slow cymbal stroking to earn that punk cabaret label.
The best songs are the group’s most well known: the wild and vaguely grrrl power Girl Anachronism and the hilarious Coin-Operated Boy, which features the lyric this bridge was written/to make you feel smitten/with my sad picture/of girl getting bitterer. Yes, they’ve got a sense of humour, which saves the album from occasional slumps into Morrissey melancholia and university-band angst. It possibly explains how they managed to open for Beck, Jane’s Addiction and the B-52’s.
Also recommended is their website www.dresdendolls.com, because lead singer Amanda Palmer’s bio is a scream, detailing a journey of musical influences that arrives at Dead Can Dance, Current 93 and Kraftwerk via Huey Lewis and the News and the Miami Vice soundtrack.