[CD Review] The Dandy Warhols, 'Earth to the Dandy Warhols' (Beat the World)
While the film Dig! arguably trapped the Brian Jonestown Massacre in amber—or at least an image of its mercurial leader, Anton Newcombe—it did just about the same to the other band featured in the film, Portland's Dandy Warhols. The quartet's deft reworking of psych/drone influences into chewy pop rock never won more than a cult following in the U.S. despite the major-label treatment, leaving them in a classic "but we're big in Europe" position that unsurprisingly led to being dropped from Capitol when the company retrenched a couple of years back.
But credit the Dandys for sticking to their guns—in returning a bit to their Welcome to the Monkey House days (where new-wave disco took as much precedence as effects pedals) on Earth to the Dandy Warhols, they've created an often-arch listen that might be the best fusion of their populist impulses and Courtney Taylor-Taylor's gimlet eye for the absurdities of the mating game. Something about his lyrics always felt like screenplays in miniature, and the sleazoid monster of "Welcome to the 3rd World," the best Bowie disco song since the man's "Fame"/"Golden Years" peak, and the purring, amused narrator of "Now You Love Me" show his gifts remain strong, both as a songwriter and singer-as-actor.
The group's overall ear for trippy psych-pop remains strong, and songs such as "Wasp in the Lotus," all head-nodding beats and whispered intensity under swirled feedback, and the folky, intricate surge of "Love Song" are two highlights of many. There's something deeply ironic about the Dandys' most effortlessly appealing album coming at a time when only their fan base will seek it out. But in the same way that Newcombe has kept on his own path, so, too, have the Dandys, riding out the industry's shakiest days with elegant élan.
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