It has been seven years since the release of Amanda Palmer’s masterful Theatre is Evil album she recorded with the Grand Theft Orchestra. The wait for her third solo album There Will Be No Intermission is understandable given that she’s been busy been working with other artists, publishing a memoir and becoming a mother.
Amanda Palmer came to the public’s attention as the driving force of “punk cabaret” duo Dresden Dolls in the early noughties. Featuring Palmer on piano and vocals and Brian Vigiolone on drums, much of Dresden Doll’s material was raw and confessional. Palmer’s solo work is as emotionally raw and confronting as her work with the Dresden Dolls but she has expanded her musical palate significantly. She has incorporated more influences than you can poke a stick but while these include many pop influences, she remains an artist of substance.
This time around Palmer has given us a quieter album, though hardly a pop one. At 20 tracks and 74 minutes it’s unlikely teeny boppers will have the attention span for it. I’m not sure I do to be honest, especially when you break the track details down. Of the 20 tracks on There Will Be No Intermission, only 10 are songs, the rest are short instrumental, well, intermissions.
Five and a half minutes is a short song on this album. The Ride clocks in at 10 minutes, Bigger on the Inside is eight and a half minutes long and A Mother’s Confession is 10 and a half minutes. I enjoy a bit of prog rock indulgence, but much on this album is overwrought. Some songs are like diary entries with piano accompaniment, such as A Mother’s Confession and Voicemail for Jill.
You get the feeling that Palmer’s core fan base would worship anything she releases but There Will Be No Intermission is something of a disappointment. There are some strong moments such as the The Ride – a bittersweet piano tune that riffs on the Bill Hick’s line of life being “just a ride” with its chorus “the alternative’s nothingness, so you might as well give it a try”.
The album’s first single Drowning in the Sound is a ripper and in many ways classic Palmer. Machete ups the tempo and is full of urgent keys and nervy, jagged strings. Look Mummy, No Hands is like a slightly sinister song from a musical.
So, that makes four songs out of 10 that are very good indeed but the album goes on and on … Nevertheless, I will certainly be looking forward to her inevitable Australian tour as there will be no intermission.