Odditorium or Warlords of Mars

Let’s face it – The Dandy Warhols are slick.

Let’s face it – The Dandy Warhols are slick. Few rock bands could remain credible after recording the most popular mobile phone theme on the planet, but the Dandys simply turned their attention to arthouse cinema. The result was a starring role in the fêted rockumentary Dig! and their coolness was restored once more. But just in case any dissenters remain, this fifth album from the Portland psych-rockers should remove the lingering doubts.

The bizarrely-titled Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars is being touted by the band themselves as their back-to-basics record. So those of you who enjoyed their reverb-drenched, fuzz-rock style of old will be delighted with it.

That said, the Dandys have come a long way musically since the early days. Opening skit, ‘Colder Than The Coldest Winter Was Cold’, explains how the band members have swapped their conventional instruments for homemade contraptions like electrified banjos, and prepares the listener for the experimentalism that’s to come. ‘Love Is The New Feel Awful’ then runs for a startling nine minutes and it’s not the only marathon effort. The super-chilled ‘Easy ‘ and ‘Holding Me Up‘ are also lengthy workouts, while the closing ‘A Loan Tonight’ is a 12-minute masterpiece of echoed vocals and heavy distortion – eerily reminiscent of Talk Talk’s early work.

Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars is not without its annoying moments. ‘Did You Make A Song With Otis?’ is yet another juvenile stoner ditty and ‘Smoke It’ is filled with enthusiastic “Woo-Hoo” yelps that wouldn’t sound out of place in a McFly song. Incidentally, the latter has been chosen as the flagship single, and should trick the Vodafone generation of fans into thinking that this album is far lighter than it really is. Another problem is that the catchy ‘Down Like Disco’ sounds far too similar to their earlier hit, ‘Boys Better’.

Minor grievances asides, The Dandy Warhols are moving in the right direction. They’ve been trying to distance themselves from the mass-appeal pop market since Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, while keeping their music listenable at the same time. The first step came in the shape of the much-maligned Welcome To The Monkey House and this album should complete the process.

 

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