The Residents

Demons Dance Alone

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To mark their 30th anniversary as a band, the Residents released this strangely programmatic album, their first since 1998's Wormwood: Curious Stories From the Bible. According to Cryptic Corporation (the band's corporate face), the songs on Demons Dance Alone were "written for the most part in the days following September 11" and "capture a quite different side of the Residents" -- a vulnerable and questioning side that poses unanswerable questions. What this means is a more subdued ambience and more tunefulness, and a little bit less "nyah-nyah-nyah," though not that much less. The first singing voice (on "Life Would Be Wonderful") is that dorky pseudo-country & western one that listeners have all come to know and be irritated by, but the next one sounds like it could be Syd Straw or maybe Lori Carson (Residents are never identified by name), and the song she sings, "The Weatherman," is disarming in its naked emotion. Goofiness is never far from the surface, as song titles like "Mickey Macaroni" and "Make Me Moo" indicate, but this time out it is seriously tempered by what sound like -- dare one suggest it? -- intimations of mortality.

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