Wednesday, 14 April 2010


When I discovered The Dresden Dolls I fell in love with them so much that I made it my mission to get a copy of their limited edition live album, A IS FOR ACCIDENT, which has now been reissued.  There are 10 songs on the album (3 of which appear on the studio album --- Missed Me, Coin Operated Boy and Truce).   In some ways, this isn't a conventional 'live' album as most of the songs aren't featured on the studio album.  However, this doesn't make them second rate or works in progress --- the songs on this album are not mere curiousities but easily the equal of their more polished, studio-produced cousins.  Although there isn't much tangible evidence to show these tracks were recorded live, there is an indefinable atmosphere to them.   It evokes imagery of world-weary cabaret performers in sleazy nightclubs.

Amanda's songs depict powerful emotions and all the bittersweet ennui of a life of disappointments without resorting to the conventional tools of the angry and disaffected.   I guess you sort of expect lyrics like this to go along with a 'rock' (or even 'punk') performance --- that is to say, much heavier music and screaming vocals.  But the genius of The Dresden Dolls is that they have re-invented the genre by marrying the raw honesty of alternative music's lyrics to the musical sophistication of piano-based cabaret.  So Amanda doesn't have to raise her voice to get her point across.

"Christopher Lydon" features a vocal that will break your heart as Amanda sings about her unrequited love for a talkshow DJ.   "Glass Slipper" starts off quietly and builds up to a devastating climax that encapsulates the regrets and reproaches behind a life that hasn't quite lived up to its potential.  "Bank of Boston Beauty Queen" is a more upbeat and jaunty number, full of black humour and picturesque lyrics.  I would probably still say the studio album is the best introduction to the band as I think it showcases a wider diversity of styles but this album is certainly worth looking out for.

How many wishes do I still have left to fix the way it ends?
How many princes will it take to put a girl like this back together again?
How many instances can you point out where I was less than kind?
How many happy endings do you need to change your fucking mind?
And how much time do we have left before its midnight
And you see that I was never the right size?

Originally published in December 2004.

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