The Dolls is a collaboration between three artists who have no business finding enough time to work together and put out an album. In the past year or so, Antye Greie has released Explode with Vladislav Delay, as well as Before The Libretto as a member of the Lappetites. Vladislav Delay has not only collaborated with Greie on the aforementioned release, but put out The Four Quarters under his own name. Oh yeah, and Craig Armstrong is a constantly-working composer who has released albums under his own name, as well as worked with artists ranging from Madonna to U2 and Massive Attack, as well as doing soundtrack work for films like Moulin Rouge (among others).
Interestingly enough, The Dolls sounds almost exactly as one might imagine it to sound given the three artists involved. Warm, lush piano and string work is layered over the top of crisp, sometimes dub-influenced programming while glitchy sprays burst over it at times. Oh yeah, and Greie adds her half-spoken, half-sung vocals (which seem to be getting increasingly better with each release she works on). In fact, the album opener of "Martini Never Dies" is almost straightforward enough to find itself on an album by Armstrong himself, with slick, dry cracking beats and a wobbly bassline rumbling under minimal piano phrases and some crooning by Greie that sounds almost freestyle at times. "White Dove" chugs out alternating beat patterns under more warm piano and vocals, while frantic bursts of electronics shuffle on the outskirts.
On the album (and group) titled "The Dolls," the group turn in what is basically the theme song from the collaboration as glitch dub beats roll underneath some great interplay between Greie and the ivory tickling of Armstrong. Fortunately, not every single track on the album follows the same pattern as all of the aforementioned tracks, as "Night Active" busts out with a more dancey beat and nary a piano or string to be found while "Choices" rumbles with some poppy electro-krunk and "Motor City" is 4/4 banging with a wobbled-out twist (and some almost doo-wop vocals from Greie). Fans of Armstrong may find The Dolls a bit too strange to digest on first sitting, but those looking for even more unique work from Greie and Delay will find that the collaborative trio (who are all obviously as prolific as hell) has more than enough interesting elements to make it a worthwhile purchase.