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The Residents


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4 stars While clearly not representive of their body of work, DEMONS DANCE ALONE is nonetheless a fantastic addition to their catalog and an excellent entry to The Residents sound. Loosely themed on their emotions after Sep. 11th, the album tackles loss, denial and finally acceptance. The sound is way more accessible than anything they had previously done, with contemporary song structure (chorus, verse, chorus) done in a non-mocking manner. Apart from the minor key that much of the album is set in, you could almost expect to hear some tracks on commercial radio. It includes some of the 'Singing Resident's' best vocalizations and wonderful work from guest collaberator Molly Harvey, as well as interesting instrumental passages.

'Mr. Wonderful' opens the album, setting the tone for what will follow listing a litany of regrets. It's done in a simple sing-song way, yet doesn't get too saccherine. (Check out the live version to hear how this is expanded to encompass the entire theme of the album). The next track 'The Weatherman' is a stand-out. Sung by Molly Harvey, it perfectly captures the feelings of one who pines for a distant other. The chorus "I'm never needed, I'm needy" is heartbreaking yet beautiful. The following tracks of part 1 are by turns creepy and atmospheric ('Ghost Child' and 'Caring') and cool and aching ('Honey Bear' and "The Car Thief'). The first part closes with 'Neediness' which contains one of their most emotional and personal statements. Very powerful.

The second part is bookended by two aggressive Instrumental tracks ('Thundering Skies' and 'Baja') which are constructed with minimilist sounds and stop on a dime time changes and reflect the ambiguity and hostility of what comes in between. 'Mickey Macaroni', which deals wit the childishness of not moving forward, is the most typically Resident song in the group, with grating vocals and guitars done to perfection. 'Betty's Body' is most likely the most catchy thing they've ever done, yet it has a lyric pattern with strange sarts and stops, creating an interesting contradiction in sound.

The final section details the likely endings for the emotions detailed before, victim ('Beekeeper's Daughter'), predator ('Wolverines') and ultimate acceptance and transendance ('Make Me Moo', the most unlikely sound in their entire oeuvre). It closes with the final summation 'Demons Dance Alone', which plainly states that we ultimately have no control.

Altogether, I find this a fully realized work of intelligence (not that they were short on that) and unexpected maturity (which they were often blamed for lacking). After the overly ambitious, but equally rewarding, 'Wormwood' efforts and the looking back of the 'Icky Flix' project, this came as a welcome sign that they had once again re-invented themselves. That the album had such closure, dealt with regrets and looking back, and had a melancholy feel throughout, made it feel as if it were a career finale, which would have been very fitting (fortunately for us rabid devotees, they would go on with 'Animal Lover' which combines the commercial aspct of this project with the experimentation of earler efforts).

I cannot say enough to praise this album and highly recommend it to any one who wants to dip a toe into their rough waters.

Report this review (#60416)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars RESIDENTS later career is as user friendly as it gets, as someone who was just recently became a fan, I think I can now distinguish the weirdness on different albums of this band. Somewhere in the 80's the material became less experimental and went with more focus on concepts and lyrics, as here we have something I would dare say is something like underground pop music, rather then the all over the place sounds of 70's albums.

So is the music good? Yes. There aren't any Not Available avantgarde epics but hearing RESIDENTS make this kind of music shows that they are still re-inventing themselves at every turn. For a change the lyrics are very understandable with less voice effects, and the female vocals are excellent. Long story short, it's vocal song oriented (more refined beautiful underground pop of later albums, "Life Would Be Wonderful", "The Weatherman"...) with instrumental parts which hint at the Commercial Album era ("Thundering Skies" for example but present in most of album).

Report this review (#616066)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This is actually a mostly serious concept album...yes serious. The Residents most of the time are always releasing albums that are lampooning and satirical of all types of music. But this time, the topic is dealing with emotions surrounding the attacks of 9/11. This is probably one of the more accessible albums by The Residents, yet it is handled very well. You still get a lot of the minimalism that you are used to, but the production on this one is very good which helps and some of the songs are very well orchestrated. You still get that level of weirdness that you expect from The Residents, so no they are not compromising much to get the message across.

The album is divided into 3 parts which are collectively preceded and followed by an introductory song and another summary song. Each part is separated by a few very short instrumentals/sound effects. Tracks 2 - 8 are Part I and entitled "Loss". Part two is comprised of tracks 12 - 17 and called "Denial". Part 3 is entitled "The Three Metaphores" which are tracks 21, 23 and 25 and are separated by 3 more very short tracks. The music is simple yet complex with the alternating strange and normal vocals and vocals are also lead by female vocalists in several tracks, which help with the flow of the album, making it not get stagnant or monotonous.

With all the albums in The Residents discography, this one is one of their best. You still get a lot of The Residents signature sound, but this time it is done with more reverence to deal with the subject matter. This album is still a great representation of the uniqueness of the avant garde prog sound, in that it is not typical music, it is still experimental and challenging, but it is also accessible. You could almost get away with playing it for almost anyone, but you might still get some weird looks from time to time. Anyway, as far as avant-prog, I consider this a masterpiece of mostly minimalistic and inventive music even though it is one of The Residents most thought out and accessible recordings. 5 stars.

Report this review (#1326625)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2014 | Review Permalink

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