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Theatre Is Evil (Bonus Version)

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Album Review

Funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over a million dollars, post-punk cabaret ringmaster Amanda Palmer's first outing since 2008's Who Killed Amanda Palmer is bursting at the corset seams with the kind of feral yet laser focused energy that can only come from someone with the moxie to list themselves in the credits with the word "f*****g" in between their first and last name. Palmer and her Grand Theft Orchestra build Theatre Is Evil on a foundation of retro-neon concrete (the 1984 Robin Williams, Soviet-era comedy Moscow on the Hudson is referenced at one point) with delinquent panache, giving nods to 'Til Tuesday and Kate Bush ("The Killing Type"), David Bowie ("Grown Man Cry"), the Knack ("Melody Dean"), and even Alphaville (the intro to "Want It Back" threatens to explode into "Forever Young" before morphing into a summery, upbeat radio jam that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the Cars' Candy-O). The band then skips ahead a decade on the beautiful, string-laden epic "Trout Mask Replica," which recalls Tori Amos as filtered through Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness-era Smashing Pumpkins. While all of the comparisons are apt, they merely delineate the project; they don't define it, as Palmer has proven time and again, both as a solo artist and fronting the Dresden Dolls, that she's a wily and innovative, albeit divisive, force of nature, and Theatre Is Evil bristles, crackles, aches, and moans with surprising efficiency considering its 15-song length, pairing fractured synths and staccato guitar riffs with Palmer's throaty, untamed pipes, sounding for all the world like a brazenly cool, alternate-universe version of No Doubt. [The album was also released on vinyl.]

Customer Reviews

Evil is everything

This album is art. You may love it, you may hate it. You should experience it.

AFP, you've done it again!

I never bother with reviews, I barely even bother buying CDs now, but I went out of my way to pre order this album on a friend's credit card mind you, as I have been an avid Palmer follower for almost 10 years now and I can say without a doubt that she has released a masterpiece.
I mean 2000 words from Ben Folds can't be wrong hey?
The style by comparison to her traditionally known earlier work is extremely different in its intensity so if you are obsessed as me the first listen is going to be a shock to your system, but songs like 'trout heart replica' will be taking you back to WKAP times.
I've had one listen through the whole album and I can't wait to listen to them another 10-20-100 times and pick up all those technical eccentricities AFP Is famous for.
As a musician, AFP is undoubtedly my biggest influence, inspiration and role model.
The only thing missing is Brian Viglione, but I'm still giving it a 5.
Well done Amanda, well don't GTO.


Pure Art

An album, indeed music, can be many things. A dance track for a party, a soundtrack or theme. Something to sing along to, sound to chill with, a lullaby for sleep. Maybe it is just the next - by the numbers - commercial radio hit, or perhaps the next iconic indie noise that will remain fresh and original for at best a week. Music might be that song you fell in love with while falling in love, it might be the big chorus number curtain call for the next Broadway show, (or that most final of curtain calls, a funeral.) It may be all these things and more or perhaps none.

Amanda Palmer certainly believes that music can be all the above and more. What's more she has in this one album stretched the boundaries of music about as far as they can stretch, while managing to weave a tapestry of sound that remains coherent and beautiful all at once.

Firstly an admission. I have been a long time of fan of Amanda and co' following her punk cabaret styled sounds with The Dresden Dolls, through to her Ukulele approach to Radiohead and Nirvana. I was quick to support her Kickstarter crowd funded project and thus have waited for this album with both anticipation and the concerns my hopes for it would be dashed.

Let me just say that “Theatre Is Evil” has surpassed all my expectations. It is a heady mix of styles (try Stephen Sondheim like Broadway flirtations, 80's pop and unabashed Punk) that all mix together in what can only be described as one of the most original and impactful albums I have heard for a long time.

For me the love has been instant. I feel like this is one of those albums I have sought and waited for through half a lifetime of genre surfing. Having said that it continues to grow with each listen and for anyone who finds this does not shake their booty from the offset, I can only implore they give it the time it deserves.

I think this is much more than an album or selection of songs, it is “Art,” and like all art it confronts and pulls and pushes. It may bring tears and laughter, joy and sadness or it might just provide a muse. Like all good art though I suspect it's impact, along with the model of its creation will extend long after the songs have grown old.

One thing, this deserves to be recognised as an album greater than the sum of its parts. Without doubt individual tracks are as good as any I have heard this year, but this is so much more than the sum of it parts, a very easy 5 stars, a real masterpiece!


Born: 30 April 1976 in New York, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Before she was the lead singer, pianist, lyricist, and composer for the "Brechtian punk cabaret" duo the Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer was a Wesleyan University graduate who had been involved in theater for a number of years. After college, she founded the Shadowbox Collective, a group that performed plays as well as street theater. (Palmer herself was a busker who performed as a living statue.) In 2000 she met drummer Brian Viglione; though Palmer could not read music, she formed the Dresden Dolls...
Full Bio
Theatre Is Evil (Bonus Version), Amanda Palmer
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