Sunday, 13 May 2012
The Dandy Warhols - This Machine
‘This Machine’ is the eighth album from the American alt-rockers, released on April 24th on San Diego independent label ‘The End’
The last time the Dandy Warhols released original material was 2008’s lacklustre ‘Earth to the Dandy Warhols’, whilst the 2009 stopgap ‘The Dandy Warhols are Sound’ offered only a re-edit of their Nick Rhodes produced 2003 album ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’ so ‘This Machine’ represents a somewhat overdue update to their signature sound. Described by the group as their grungiest effort to date, it’s awash with loud guitars, trim melodies and, as befits a Dandy’s album, a few laughs.
In the past, even the Dandy’s good records have occasionally lacked focus, prone to drifting off into stoner vagueness. This was particularly true of the overlong and stultifyingly dull ‘Earth to …’ so it’s refreshing to find singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor keeping he and his cohort’s worst impulses at bay here. Whilst it would be untrue to say that ‘This Machine’ is as fat free as one of Courtney’s vegan slushies, only one track crosses the five minute barrier and bar the final two tracks it never really feels like the band are coasting, leading to what is probably their best record in a decade.
Opener ‘Sad Vacation’ is a bass heavy, distorted garage rumble, whilst ‘Enjoy Yourself’ is the most energetic they’ve sounded since ‘Bohemian Like You’, an optimistic Weezer-esque plea for self-reliance and enthusiasm. ‘Seti vs the Wow! Signal’ is named after a snatch of radiation the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence believe evidence is evidence of alien radio usage and is also probably the most fun song about space exploration since Bowling for Soup covered the Jimmy Neutron Theme. If aliens don’t want to get into contact after hearing this I would suggest that their probably not out there after all. ’16 Tons’ sees the quartet re-imagining Merle Travis’s 1947 union-man anthem as a treatise on the dangers of sliding into middle-age and irrelevance ‘another day older and deeper in debt’.
On the downside Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s vocals are still heavily reliant on waves of reverb to gloss over rough edges but when he deadpans ‘I am free, I let music get inside of me till I know who I am’ over a sax-assisted Rolling Stones impression he sounds the most at home he has for years and it’s hard not to be swept along by the Dandy’s lively new direction. It may well even win them some new fans.