Sometimes, an album's opening track can tell you everything you need to know about an artist. Other times, an opening track can be an example of first impressions being deceiving -- and that is exactly what happens on Kevin Cahoon's Doll. This CD's title track and first full-length song (after a brief intro that incorporates the theme from the '70s sitcom Good Times) is a self-deprecating number in which Cahoon sings about being the ultimate high-school geek/nerd/dork; the lyrics are pure emo. But after that title song, it becomes clear that Cahoon's punk-pop doesn't fit neatly into the emo category. Actually, most of Doll is best described as non-emo punk-pop meets glam rock -- and catchy tracks like "Saved by the Beauty," "Bitch" (not to be confused with the Rolling Stones classic), "Mirrorball Prophecy," and "Star Ballad" have way too much glam, glitter, and gloss for Cahoon to be considered a true-blue emo artist. Emo is full of introspection, and introspection is in very short supply on what is -- more often than not -- a party album. Although relevant to the 21st century alterna-rock scene, Cahoon gets a lot of inspiration from the hell-bent-for-fun rock of the '70s and '80s -- punk-pop and glam fun mostly, but there hints of funk-rock at times. Darned if Cahoon doesn't incorporate elements of Prince on "Fashionista" and "Mr. Curious" -- and Prince's lover-man decadence is certainly a long way from the we're-just-ordinary-guys aesthetic that emo loves to project. OK, so the title track's emo leanings are not typical of Doll on the whole. But one of the things that makes this album -- for all its '70s and '80s worship -- relevant to 2000s alterna-rock (along with some Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day influence) is Cahoon's sense of irony. Cahoon is ironic as hell, which is quite a contrast to all the glammed-up, larger than life '70s and '80s rockers who ended up believing their own hype. Cahoon is laughing at all the music he admires, and his sense of fun makes Doll an enjoyable listen.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson