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Echo Online - March 16, 2005


The Dresden Dolls : Boston group captures German cabaret style
by Earl Poleski

When I hear something totally unexpected in music come along, sometimes I try to imagine what the discussion at the record company sounded like. Someone said to someone else: “You know what music needs? A German cabaret sound!” The reply: “I’m sold! I’ll find ‘em!”

Eventually winding up in Boston, they found The Dresden Dolls: a two-member band inspired by abstract flashiness and the music that was popular in pre-Hitler Deutschland. Hey, it worked for Marilyn Manson and his latest Nazi-like motif on his latest album “Golden Age of Grotesque.”

On their 2004 self-titled album, The Dresden Dolls stick to music boxes, a piano and a drum set for the most part. Apparently, guitars and amps are unfashionable. There’s a remarkably unannoying clangor of sound effects in most of the 12 songs on the album, which sounds like a combination of Tori Amos and L7 might if they lived in Depression-era Germany. Fans of either might want to check The Dresden Dolls out.

Then again, solidly likening them to other bands is difficult. The music sounds black and white and very unlike many things I’ve ever heard before. Listening to The Dresden Dolls makes me feel kind of poorly traveled and badly read. It’s like finally reading the book everyone who seems smart has read and feeling stupid for just now getting around to it – but you’re glad you did.

The Dresden Dolls are very relistenable – hearing them once is insufficient. Every song is like a little silent movie that you hear instead of see. The album can be played while studying without distracting anyone an awful lot from notes or reading. It doesn’t get too loud but avoids getting so soft that listeners fall asleep. The music is interesting, and the lyrics are vivid. Everything about the album is dark and theatrical; it’s not unlike David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” in that respect.

The Dresden Dolls are just what music needed: something dark, daring, alluring and attractive enough that you forget whatever else is going on and just enjoy listening for 45 minutes at a time. It’s the change of pace most people’s music collections need.