Drama queen and former Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer will do almost anything to get your attention ... and, oh yeah, she makes the kind of music that makes one sit up and listen. We don’t mean “drama queen” as a pejorative: Palmer’s theatrical background colors her distinct brand of cabaret rock, and her graceful punches and surprise curveballs hit their targets seemingly without effort. On Theatre Is Evil, the gifted songwriter and pianist hones her melodic strategies and affinity for new wave–ish hooks, and she directs a cast of contributors who deliver runaway horns, crashing guitars, glowering bass, and cinematic strings. Palmer’s lyrical prowess stings and tickles: “Are you really sure you wanna go/When you can do it with a rock star?” she begs on the title track. “I couldn’t kill/to save a life,” she swears on “The Killing Type,” a hugely hooky, radio-ready song that swerves between the hiccupy Lene Lovich of the new wave era and the swaggering, swaying emo pop of Tori Amos. Theatre Is Evil may indeed be a bit wicked; it’s also massively rewarding.