Successful recipient of Kickstarter fan funding and wife of award winning author Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra is back with her third and strongest album to date. With a sound that could be compared to a strange fusion of Metric, Imogeon Heap, and Joy Division, Theatre Is Evil is a CD that shows some real musical growth.
Infused with industrial electronics, pianos, guitars, and Palmer’s low vocals, the sound of Theatre Is Evil is one that swells and ebbs from track to track. Pulsating energy in one song and in the next filled with quiet emotion. Smile (Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen) was the album opener and almost felt like a throw away track to me. Lacking any definitive direction it could have been happily nestled away on a B-Side of a single somewhere and almost had me ready to disregard the rest of the album. That being said by the time I got to Do It With A Rockstar I was fairly firmly onboard with what was happening. The opening almost reminded me of the opening of a The Who stadium rock anthem.
The song that I have probably listened to the most is Grown Man Cry. Truly this is the song that stands out to me as the strongest offering on the album. The song firmly puts me in mind of Depeche Mode and I have to say…it is a sound that Palmer pulls off really well. Mournful and bitter sounding, the song is haunting. This low tone continues through the next song, Trout Heart Replica, which features Amanda on the piano and shows that she is just as capable in her own voice.
The Grand Theft Orchestra doesn’t always play second fiddle on this album. Mid-way through the tracklist we get treated to an epic sounding instrumental which is aptly title Grand Theft Intermission. The break is nice and acts as a good changeup. I can almost picture a strange tango performed by a theatre of the damned as I listed to this. It works.
All in all, this album wasn’t what I was expecting (although to be honest I’m not sure what it was that I was expecting). Palmer’s sound was refreshing to me and I know that a few of these tracks are going to be added to my regular playlists.