Dresden Dolls Yes, Virginia

This is what happens when children are exposed to nothing but alternative schooling until maturity: they grow up nurturing stupid ideas, because nobody is around to bully them out. Please, allow me: the Dresden Dolls clearly take their "alternative rock cabaret” very seriously — they live it, dressing like extras from Bob Fosse’s lost foray into gothic choreography and striking ghastly pin-up poses in black and white promo shots. Lead singer Amanda Palmer dramatises quasi-political lyrics with hisses, whispers and over-enunciation, along to music that sounds… like Coldplay. Despite what their stage directions would lead you to believe, the Dresden Dolls actually sound like run-of-the-mill radio rock (though it is just as annoying as you might assume). Palmer allegedly has a background in music theatre, but since she can barely carry an unadorned rock vocal, the assertion that she has any real training seems laughable even to a casual admirer of the genre. Palmer and her consort, Brian Viglione, are clearly rabid attention seekers, and with the Dresden Dolls they’re getting what they’ve always wanted. Unfortunately, while the "rock’n’roll show tune” idea has potential, the Dresden Dolls miss their creative mark and opt for histrionic gloom instead. Still, Yes Virginia has its use — by mixing the zany contrivances of Tori Amos with the irritating faux-sophisticated melodrama of Morrissey, Palmer and Viglione have custom-made a self-mutilation soundtrack for teenaged Rocky Horror outcasts. (Roadrunner)