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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dolls On Fire - Ladies and Gentlemen

Dolls On Fire - Ladies and Gentlemen
2012, Dolls On Fire

Kansas City quintet Dolls On Fire is about as post-modern as you can get.  Influences range from The Rentals to Neon Trees and Feist to She and Him.  With an irreverent disregard for traditional pop slickness, Dolls On Fire manage to crank out deliciously catchy pop songs that are just off-kilter enough to make you uncomfortable, but with big enough hooks to drag you along for the ride.  Check out the seven songs on their debut EP, Ladies and Gentlemen, and you’ll be hooked.
Dolls on fire kick things off with the low key synth punk of "Give Me A Reason To Love", a catchy and sinuous rocker with a decided dark side. This is a great start, riven with real energy and vitality. This energy is maintained on "Hosanna (On The Radio)", the story of a childhood friend; a wild child turned rock star. There is a definite sour grapes feel here, but the song has a solid vibe. Things get a bit shaky however between the growing vitriol and the unfortunate use of a vocoder.

Rachel Jaggard takes over vocals on "Minotaur", a soulful riff on hidden violent natures. This has a dark quasi 1970's soul/rock feel that wears on you. "GFY (300 Hands)" is an amusing little posthumous kiss off song. Once again there is an inherent musical darkness here that is intriguing. "A Boy Like Me" maintains this feel, but pares the darkness with a buoyant melody that grows into complicated minor keys and pointedly messy vocal harmonies.  Dolls On Fire find a bit of twisted pop magic on "Jem Vs. The Volcano". The vocals click here, and the arrangement will keep your feet moving even if you actively resist. The EP comes to a close with "No One Will Love You Unless You're A Man", a dark and messy pop gem that combines Dolls On Fire in characteristic pop genius with their deconstructive melodic sensibilities.

Whether you dig what Dolls On Fire have going on or not, you'll be forced to admit they are certainly original and interesting.  Musical precision is occasionally sacrificed at the altar of art on Ladies And Gentlemen, but most listeners will get it and be delighted or at least intrigued at the casual rebellion displayed by Dolls On Fire.
Rating:           3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
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