Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner)

The Dresden Dolls 

Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner)

Their debut was captivating, revitalizing, and manic, seamlessly melding cabaret, torch, and rock styles with macabre confessional lyrics. Yes, Virginia is the follow-up from what once seemed an unpredictable band; sadly, everything on it is predictable. The song structures are standard fare. The band's all-around sound, once so full and dynamic, is so pared down, it's right on the edge of being tiresome. Even die-hard Brigadiers don't want to listen to "The Jeep Song" over and over.

The opener, "Sex Changes" -- an explosive study in identity crisis -- comes closest to the punk-infused "Girl Anachronism." No band wants to be pigeonholed, but sometimes trailblazing means not milking the cash cow. Yet the Dolls don't seem in it only for the money: They promote fan-friendly photography and recording opportunities at shows. Problem is, those fans aren't there just to see the average three-chord rock band.

On the other hand, as tepid as the new release may seem, with Amanda Palmer's imaginative ivory-pounding and poignant lyrics, and Brian Viglione's drumming, sometimes at metal speed, the band just couldn't be average. Hear the proof on "My Alcoholic Friends" and "First Orgasm."

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