After all the music that The Dandy Warhols have put out, it is hard to imagine a new release being blatantly different, but things pick up in a separate dimension from Distortland (QRO review) and definitely from public favorites Dandys Rule, OK and Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia on Why You So Crazy. Do they sound like the same musicians? Sure, but this strange folk-comedy rock hybrid is barely recognizable as classic Dandy Warhols. In fact, some songs such as “Highlife” sound like a parody of the band, which was somewhat a parody itself of pop, in a time when alternative still meant counter-culture.
Ok, “Be Alright” is funny and weird in a good folk way, but it is hardly classic, and the other ‘big single’, “Motor City Steel”, is just garbage in a satire wrapping.
Where does this leave us? With the highlight of the release being “Terraform”, nothing even like the most interesting song on Distortland, “You Are Killing Me”; a stand alone trippy movement on “Next Thing I Know”, an opener, “Fred N Ginger”, which while very sentimental and acoustic guitar based is pleasing in an intimate, not parody based, comedically, or alternative way, and finally a closer, “Ondine” which just makes no sense. “Ondine” is like “Us” on Spoon’s Hot Thoughts (QRO review): the band wants to end happily on an instrumental, this version is piano, but just what the hell is “Ondine” to a fan but at most muzak?
So, some of the songs are still good, right? Yeah, just not enough, and the parody is amusing right, again yeah, but in a laughably bad way. The only pieces worth holding on to are: “Fred N Ginger”, “Be Alright”, and the songs which sound a lot like “Terraform”, those being, “Thee Elegant Burn”, “To the Church”, and “Forever”.
Apologies to the band themselves, and fans of classic track “Not Your Bottle”, but “Small Town Girls” campiness and the catchy “Terraform” just do not make a good release over all. Many band have half-good records like Why You So Crazy, and that is ok, but The Dandy Warhols probably want to be great still, keep trying.