Musical Monday – Theatre is Evil by Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra

I like Amanda Palmer’s music. Who Killed Amanda Palmer? is a solid album from start to finish. The Dresden Dolls had a lot of really excellent songs.

Then came Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, a collection of songs about Australia and New Zealand. Or something like that. It was moderately terrible.

Still, I was excited to listen to Theatre is Evil.

But this album is too long. By, oh, about four or five songs?

And even then, many of the individual songs are kind of bloated. I’ve listened to Theatre is Evil three times all the way through, and individual songs a few more times. When I hear songs by themselves, they come across much better. As an album? Not so much.

Some songs are still too long just by themselves. “Trout Heart Replica” is seven minutes long and it could easily be cut down by at least a minute or two. “Bottomfeeder” must be magic, but the bad kind of magic, because it’s only six minutes but damn does this song drag on and on. And it isn’t a bad song, I like it and all, it’s too long is all.

What’s good is good. The album has a big sound to it, even on slower piano-and-vocals-only songs. “The Bed Song” is one of those slow but strong ones, even if it is a tad too long. “The Killing Type” is probably my favorite, as it sounds the most like the Dresden Dolls.

Melody Dean” has some great energy, and some horns which are turning up everywhere in all the music I’ve been listening to lately.

Look, I know this is like her self-funded album or whatever, what with the Kickstarter and people just shoveling money at her. But some restraint is needed in all creative endeavors. Sometimes a good piece has to get cut to make the end product stronger or more powerful. Palmer doesn’t seem to do that here, and looking at her old Dresden Dolls stuff, I’m confused as to why. Most of those songs aren’t short for no reason, they’re tightly crafted. They’re exactly what is needed to deliver the point.

Oh man, “Berlin” is way too long as well.

Sometimes a song has to be seven minutes to deliver the point. Not as often as happens on Theatre is Evil, though.

The album itself feels too long, and I think this is also a consequence of the long songs. By the time I’ve reached “Trout Heart Replica” I want to take a break. I didn’t donate to the Kickstarter, but Wikipedia is showing me that it’s possible to have gotten an even longer album. The base version, no bonus tracks, is fifteen songs long. Depending on how much you gave through Kickstarter, it’s possible to end up with nineteen or even twenty-three songs.

I can’t even imagine that.

At least the base album closes decently with “Olly Olly Oxen Free.” Upbeat, loud, and short.

Overall, I’d say this is a so-so album. There are good songs on here, with all the energy I’d expect from Amanda Palmer. But as an album it’s bloated. If you’re super into Amanda Palmer, well, you probably already have the album. If you aren’t, check out the Dresden Dolls, or her most excellent Who Killed Amanda Palmer? instead.

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About seansynthetic

"...so I says the the guy, I says to him, 'No, YOU ain't allowed back into this Chuck-E-Cheese.'"

Posted on October 22, 2012, in Musical Monday and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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