(Dine Alone Records, out Fri 25 Jan 2019)
The Dandy Warhols have always been a musically eclectic bunch, far more so than their image built on big hits such as Bohemian Like You and We Used To Be Friends would suggest. In fact, their commendable desire to follow their own muse in the face of market forces has led them into conflict with many a label. However, even long term observers may be taken aback by the experimentation of this latest LP, the band’s tenth.
This return to a more freewheeling style maybe somewhat in opposition to the band’s previous effort Distortland which many felt, while perfectly solid, sounded like a diluted version of their early 00s neo-psychedelic pomp. A criticism that could not be thrown at this record.
The album opens in the odd fashion it means to go on with Fred & Ginger – a warped 40-second 40s inspired track paying tribute to the iconic cinematic dance duo. Directly following this is Terraform, an industrial piece complete with robotic vocals that would not have sounded out of place on The Matrix soundtrack.
Possibly the most unusual thing about the record is the relative absence of guitars. There are far more electronic-based songs here than there are the band’s more usual guitar hook-laden efforts, with tracks venturing into industrial, goth, electro and on The Next Thing I Know even trip-hop territory. The tracks are also vocally varied with Courtney Taylor-Taylor trying out different styles as well as sounding very Bowie-esque on a couple of tracks (Thee Elegant Bum and To The Church). Perhaps the strangest offering is Forever, a sinister piano-driven number with odd staccato rhythms that sounds like Latin ballroom as imagined by Gary Numan.
There are exceptions to this experimenting though such as Be Alright which sounds more like classic Warhols, complete with fuzzy guitars and Taylor-Taylor’s usual louche vocals. Given this and the song’s catchiness, it is hardly surprising the band’s label picked it as the lead single.
Not that there is necessarily a problem with all the experimentation. It’s just the record never really coalesces or feels like a whole, but instead more like a rag-bag of everything the band was trying out thrown on to the one LP. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t.
Why You So Crazy may not then be an entirely successful enterprise but it is an intriguing album, and you can only admire the Dandies for taking musical risks like this a quarter of a century into their career. Long may their adventurous spirit carry on into their next 25 years.