Theatre is Evil
Sep 14, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
Amanda Palmer is suffering from an identity crisis. Theatre is Evil, Palmer's first solo album since parting ways with her label, finds the self-proclaimed piano-slayer yearning not only to do it with a rock star, but to become one. The result is a song set that begins a move away from the haunted cabaret halls where Palmer shines-but never manages to go anywhere of note.
Palmer is a shrewd entrepreneur who had has built her near cult-like empire on the power of her unfiltered honesty; the album's oft-generic content is unexpected. But partnered with newly-formed backing band Grand Theft Orchestra, the "I" has been replaced with "we" and "you," and clever, piano-driven nuances have been all but eschewed in favor a larger, guitar-based sound. This in itself wouldn't be bad, if it weren't for the fact that Palmer leaves most of her personality behind in the shift. "The Killing Type" epitomizes the failure in Palmer's new approach to lyrics. "I just can't explain how good it feels," she sings. Fair enough, but the mere fact Palmer doesn't even attempt to seems unsporting. In "Grown Man Cry" she takes it a step further, rhyming "feelings" with itself. This from the woman who used to boast a seemingly endless supply of double-entendres?
The album's high points all stem from Palmer doing what she does best-namely, spinning tales of heartbreak. Tour staple "Trout Heart Replica" finds a home as the album's orchestra centerpiece, as does "Bed Song," Palmer's picturesque tale of two uncommunicative lovers. But the gut-wrenching moments are too often usurped by lost wallets, Instagram photos, and tales of songs on the radio-none of which add up to anything greater than the sum of their parts. As with all her projects, be it Dresden Dolls, Evelyn Evelyn, or as a solo artist, Palmer proves her chutzpa. What she has failed to prove is that Theatre is Evil is anything more than a passing fancy. (www.amandapalmer.net)
Author rating: 4.5/10
Average reader rating: 5/10