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Welcome To The Monkey House
The best thing about The Dandy Warhols is that despite how instantly hummable their melodies are, they still manage to get better with each subsequent listen.
John Walshe, 13 May 2003
Quirky retrovists or stoners with an ear for a melody? Who cares! Either way those lovable Dandy Warhols are back with the follow-up 13 Tales Of Urban Bohemia and it’s as delightfully eccentric and hook-laden as you could have hoped for.
Doubtless you’ve already heard the manic pop thrill of the lead-off single, ‘We Used To Be Friends’, as its zingy melody and falsetto vocals wriggle their way into your personal headspace with all the subtlety of American foreign policy.
Much has been made of the ’80s revivalist overtones, courtesy of Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, who shares production duties with chief Dandy, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, but don’t let that put you off. True, the likes of ‘The Dope’ and ‘I Am A Scientist’ could be accused of wearing leg-warmers and playing with Rubik’s Cubes, but they’re also tarted up in a distinctly modern fashion. While we’re on the subject of producers, the great Tony Visconti adds his tuppence-ha’penny worth to ‘Hit Rock Bottom’, a swirling glamtastic affair that should have Marc Bolan smiling from his heavenly resting place.
The five-minute hallucinogenic wig-outs that characterised much of their previous work – and far too much of their live shows – have been relegated to the studio floor, replaced by the subtle sweep of archetypal grower ‘Plan’, the slow build-up of ‘Heavenly’ and the glacial chill-out that is ‘Insincere Because I’, which along with album closer ‘You Come In Burned’ wouldn’t be totally out of place on a Goldfrapp record.
The band’s trademark quirkiness is still very much evident, particularly on the title track, the brilliant ‘The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone’ and the groupie paean that is ‘You Were The Last High’, surely a single in waiting. ‘I Am Sound’ is arguably their finest four minutes yet, a gentle fairy-tale melody overlaid with the kind of vocal that suggests weariness but not apathy (“Where are all the songs/For me to sing along/But I am hoping someone writes one for me/And sings me something sweetly/For I promise to sing along”).
The best thing about The Dandy Warhols is that despite how instantly hummable their melodies are, they still manage to get better with each subsequent listen. Pop dreamers? Certainly. Revisionist tendencies? Of course. But there’s still far more to these Dandies than meets the ear.