The Dresden Dolls: No, Virginia

Music Reviews The Dresden Dolls
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The Dresden Dolls: No, Virginia

No, Virginia is the Dresden Dolls’ third studio album, and something of a companion to 2006’s Yes, Virgina

. The album is a collection of songs, demos and b-sides spanning from the band’s inception up to the Yes, Virgina sessions that were reluctantly left on the cutting room floor. Self-described punk cabaret duo Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione handpicked their favorites from this collection of bastard songs to form one cohesive album.

No Virginia kicks off with pounding piano chords and Palmer’s signature throaty vocals on “Dear Jenny,” a letter to an institutionalized young woman that acknowledges that “the facts of life are bound to get you down,” while finding solace in the fact that the world outside is still pretty. The toe-tapping “Night Reconnaissance” is classic Dolls: a Broadway-worthy melody infused with Palmer’s knife-sharp lyrics and throaty delivery.

Several tracks explore Palmer's softer, more vulnerable side, including the lullaby-esque “Sheep Song” and the pleading “Boston.” “The Mouse and the Model,” recorded during the Dolls’ brief period as a four-piece band, finds a plaintive Palmer lamenting that “the mouse and the model are laughing at us… we’re desperate for someone to trust,” as Viglione creeps in on the drums to build to a rollicking finale. One of the album’s biggest surprises is “Ultima Esperanza,” a song with bright piano chords and a driving rhythm that suggests Palmer just might have a gooey-pop center bruied beneath her crunchy, punk-rock exterior.

The band is at its weakest when Palmer’s clever, biting lyrics meander into obscurity, such as on “The Gardener” and the creepy “Lonesome Organist Rapes Page-Turner.” The tunes would likely make a great addition to the Dolls’ bawdy live cabaret show, but don’t stand up outside of that arena. These missteps aside, No, Virginia is a solid effort that proves there’s more depth to the Dolls then just pancake makeup and vampy lingerie.