Voltaire

Boo Hoo

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Leave it to Voltaire to continue being the ultimate prince of wry darkness -- even though the album was indeed inspired by his sadness over the breakup of a relationship, he knows darn well that the best approach isn't self-pity so much as dry humor. Thus the hilarious cover art: Voltaire as sweater-wearing troubadour on stage, one eye blackened, with broken hearts behind him -- not to mention the knowingly silly title of the album itself. Boo Hoo actually has its share of serious moments, but wisely Voltaire sugars the pill -- or perhaps more accurately, puts more medicine in the sugar -- with another set of songs at once celebrating and wickedly vivisecting the goth lifestyle. The swirling Eastern European melodies of earlier releases are often replaced by other approaches (check out the '40s swing kick of "BRAINS!" and "…About a Girl"), but Gregor Kitzis' violin and Matthew Goeke's cello add just enough of both elegance and energy to the proceedings. As for Voltaire's singing, his quite beautiful, warm voice is still in perfect shape -- again, his avoidance of goth clichés (no deep bellowing or groaning here) proves to be one of the best approaches in the genre in ages. When Voltaire cuts to the heart, he does so with direct focus -- "Where's the Girl?" contains not one laugh, coming across like the black-wearing counterpart to the Beach Boys' lament "Caroline, No," while "Let It Go" and "I'm Sorry" are no less wracked, Voltaire's lightness of tone belying the darker sentiments of his words. Meanwhile, "Future Ex Girlfriend" and "See You in Hell" couch things in wit as much as direct pain, finding a fine balance between the two. As for laugh riots, check out the hilarious, jaunty portrait of a politically unaware goth, "Irresponsible," not to mention the portrait of the scene and its pitfalls, "The Vampire Club." Intriguing covers of Björk's "Bachelorette" and Tori Amos' "Caught a Lite Sneeze" flesh out the album.

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