Since the 2008 release of her first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, The Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer has come from seemingly out of nowhere to amass an adoring army of followers who have made her shockingly successful. (In one well-publicized case, she made nearly $20,000 in 10 hours via a spontaneous Twitter merchandise brainstorm and auction.) Thanks in large part to Twitter, where she has more than 470,000 followers, Palmer has become a new face of the do-it-yourself work ethic and close relationships with fans.
That closeness ties together Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under. It’s a stretch to refer to it as her “second solo album,” as the accompanying press materials do, since it was released to coincide with her current tour of Australia and New Zealand, and it’s dominated by live performances (including several covers and two songs about Vegemite), with just a few studio tracks. The whole album feels like an enjoyable trifle cranked out for the hell of it. Palmer is clearly enjoying herself, whether via the ukulele-assisted electro-pop “Map Of Tasmania” (which debates pubic-hair habits), or collaborating with friends like Tom Dickins of The Jane Austen Argument, a.k.a. The Australian Dresden Dolls (“Bad Wine And Lemon Cake”), or letting Mikelangelo of The Black Sea Gentlemen sing his “A Formidable Marinade,” which sounds like an excerpt from a pro-sodomy Broadway musical.
But the album’s best moments happen when Palmer settles down and plays by herself, like on “On An Unknown Beach” or “Australia,” or her cover of Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song,” which closes the breezy album with a quietly devastating reminder of Palmer’s considerable talent.