The Dresden Dolls
No, Virginia (Roadrunner)
ESSENTIAL "The Gardener"
Amanda Palmer has been working on her solo album, "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?," due in September, and Brian Viglione has been drumming on the road with HUMANWINE and in the studio with Nine Inch Nails. Add in a serious touring schedule, and you've got some busy Dresden Dolls.
So the locally spawned cabaret-punk duo has released this odds-and-sods set - B-sides, demos, new songs, and a cover - to tide over fans until it can record a proper follow-up to 2006's "Yes, Virginia." Some songs will be familiar to fans from the band's live shows. Of these it's nice to have in one place the menacing slow-burner "The Gardener," the melancholy break-up ballad "Boston," and the frantic and disturbing story song "Lonesome Organist Rapes Page-Turner."
New tunes like "Night Reconnaissance" should reassure fans that Palmer is still on a crashing and rollicking path. Her wordplay and flailing piano remain as sharp as Viglione's drumming remains punchy. A loose but faithful cover of the Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty in Pink" will put a smile on fans of '80s-teen movies who can easily picture Palmer tearing up the title role in the John Hughes classic about the outcast girl and the high-society boy.
Considering the album's disparate origins, its slightly disjointed feel makes sense but doesn't keep it from being a solid must-have for fans. [Sarah Rodman]