This past summer I fist discovered Mary Prankster through her album, Blue Skies Over Dundalk . I wrote that Blue Skies… was one of the best records I’d heard that year, and in retrospect, it may have been my favorite. With a precedent like that arrives Roulette Girl , Mary Prankster’s follow-up to Blue Skies Over Dundalk . It’s still early in the year, but it’s going to take a hell of an album to dislodge this as my favorite record of 2000. Mary Prankster has totally revamped her band. Mary’s band now has all new members, and has gone from a quartet to a trio. This move greatly improves the quality of musicians she is working with. The new album explores a far greater depth of musical styles than her previous band’s vaguely rockabilly/punk stylings. The core of Mary Prankster’s appeal is in her song writing, and Roulette Girl is a pristine showcase for her talents. Far less raw and raunchy than her previous album, Roulette Girl is by no means a “family” record. The sheer visceral power of her songs on Blue Skies Over Dundalk has been tempered, but none of the passion is missing. Her songs range from the Pogues-ish, Irish drinking song style of “The World is Full of Bastards” to the referential, Ramones-inspired “Punk Rock Heaven” to the devastatingly heartbreaking “Takes His Place.” Most of her songs are quite funny and a lot of fun. But as you listen, there seems to be an inherent sadness to the songs, until you get songs like “Tempest,” “Takes His Place,” and “New Tricks,” and you start to wonder if the songs are really so much fun. Or perhaps the sad songs are the biggest joke on the album, and the listener has been totally conned. Either way, it’s absolutely brilliant, and a wonderful album.
Fowl Records, P.O. Box 3617, Annapolis, MD 21403; http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Birdland/4740/index.html