The German-spoken intro would’ve had me expecting more of the rock cabaret we’ve become accustomed to in previous solo outings (and with The Dresden Dolls) if it wasn’t for the full band sound of the 4 singles/promos that had already been released. It’s now a more dynamic soundscape allowing greater exploration that is eagerly undertaken. A mix of synth, noise rock and pop should get confusing but instead becomes a kinky kaleidoscope that is not only, undeniably, Amanda Palmer, but her at her best.
‘Smile (Pictures or it Didn’t Happen)’ is indie, old school style, when alternate rock wasn’t a misnomer for bands such as 30 Seconds from Mars but instead appropriate for the likes of The Cure. I use that example specifically because Robert Smith echoes in that opener and, especially, in ‘Grown Man Cry’. It’s probably coincidence but i’m delighted that Tim Pope, who made 37 videos for The Cure, made the striking video for ‘The Killing Type’. That song and ‘Grown Man Cry’ are amongst the best Amanda has created so she should take note that she “doesn’t have to kill me to make me feel” cause i’m already there. However, as great as they are, the memorable hooks of ‘Do It With a Rockstar’ and ‘Want it Back’ supercede them into favourite status. And what a perk that the latter’s stop-motion video finds our singer comfortably naked as lyrics scrawl her skin.
I said first half because track 8 is a wow of an instrumental called a ‘Grand Theft Intermission’. Horns are given the lead with drums to punch their footprints whilst melodic piano and soaring strings give them wings. It’d make for a helluva intro for the live show but here, for now, it serves as a divider.
The second half remains full band but less complex, a notch stripped down. Nervertheless, there’s some oomph to ‘Lost’, lyrically as much as musically, an analogy between things that can slip between the couch and memories of the dead that can slip in our mind. It’s melancholic yet hopeful with the line “nothing is lost forever”. ‘Bottomfeeder’ is the first ballad and at 6 minutes it gets to travels different paths that make for epic – there’s always variation. ‘Melody Dean’ goes pop rock in the vein of The Knack. ‘Berlin’ is avante garde.
Theatre is Evil was 4 years in the making, is produced by John Congleton (The Paper Chase, The Polyphonic Spree, Baroness) and released on Amanda’s own 8 Ft. Records Label. She’s yet to make an anthem for a generation but every track, all fifteen, are good with many exceptional. Despite it being 71 minutes of value for money (that’s ignoring the cheap pre-launch price i paid), a bonus EP of 4 tracks got thrown in too. ‘Ukulele Anthem’ is the greatest treat; funny, clever and meaningful.
The media build-up is the most i’ve ever witnessed by an indie artist and will undoubtedly renew I-Can-Make-It vigour in artists worldwide. It’s not only relief that enormous effort can result in success but that AMANDA PALMER’s Theatre is Evil is a promise well delivered!