...There is no cure should the Tiger Lillies get under your skin - and they will.
Zoe Howe 2007
Brechtian accordion-led trio the Tiger Lillies, famed for their macabre cabaret style and humour-laden score to hit show, Shockheaded Peter, were born to stun and inspire thought – and their latest surprise is Urine Palace: a sweepingly beautiful album recorded live with Swedish 30-piece orchestra the Symphony Orchestra of Norrlandsoperan.
For those new to the visually and sonically unique London band - which consists of falsetto singer and accordionist Martyn Jacques, drummer Adrian Huge and double bassist and musical saw, er, saw-er Adrian Stout - The Tiger Lillies are like alchemists, taking the darkest, most grisly subjects – death, drugs, whores, murderers, STDs – and turning them mysteriously into gold (Are we surprised Marilyn Manson wanted this band to play at his wedding?).
Novices taking their first Tiger Lilly steps with Urine Palace will find their senses pummelled and deliciously confused between the awe-inspiring orchestration and the jaw-dropping lyrics of, say, ‘'Kick A Baby'’.
Meanwhile, purists will be pleasantly surprised (there’s that word again, surprise is something this band are very good at - in not always the nicest ways…) that the simplicity, and indeed the curious sensitivity of the Tiger Lillies is never compromised by lavish strings or blaring brass. Conversely, the orchestral arrangements work particularly well on creepy, elliptical tracks such as ‘'Drowning'’, their sensual but strangely urgent version of ‘'My Funny Valentine'’, or the lush, decaying decadence of ‘'Manure'’.
The dainty tweeness of the strings in ‘Masturbating Jimmy’ balance Jacques’ brutal shrieks wryly, ensuring the Tiger Lillies’ humour is never weighed down, nor Jacques’ intimidating, evocative swells on the accordion dampened. But the real beauty of this collaboration lies in the more sensitive tracks, such as the magical melancholia of ‘'She’s A Whore'’ and the tremulous ‘'Yellow Angel'’.
The Tiger Lillies have been balancing dark theatricality with their own addictive brand of burlesque for nearly two decades now, and the blend is becoming ever more potent. Just a word of warning: there is no cure should the Tiger Lillies get under your skin - and they will.