WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2008 |
If I had to summarize the Dandy Warhols' career in a single word, "evolution" isn't the one that comes to mind. Most bands that survive past an album or two evolve, but the word implies too linear a course, as though some ultimate goal exists, whereas I'm not convinced that even the Dandy Warhols know exactly where the Dandy Warhols are heading. "Migration" might be a better fit. Like a rocking tribe of homosapiens, the Portland band have been criss-crossing the musical landscape since 1995's Dandy Rule, OK?, and their latest release is no exception. Earth To The Dandy Warhols, the Dandys' most sprawling record to date, seems to take a retrospective view of the groups' journey until this point -- surveys the wilderness, so to speak -- but the Dandys remain anything but sedentary.
For all of the Dandy Warhols' obvious talent, what immediately struck me about Earth To The Dandy Warhols is how tightly the record was constructed, despite its enormous scope. It's hard not to cringe at the thought of a band trying to cover so much ground on one album, even if it does run a little over an hour. Similar ambitions from other artists have often yielded less than stellar results: disjointed collections of tracks which treat diversity as more of a novelty than a unifything theme, but not a single song here sounds isolated or out of place. Even when the rhythmic vocals and decidedly funky, Stones'esq guitar of "Welcome To The Third World" collide with the psychadelic "Warp In The Lotus", Earth To The Dandy Warhols never loses its momentum. Apart from the obvious signifcance of Courtney Taylor-Taylor's production work, his enormous vocal range, not only in pitch but in style as well, lends a great deal to the expansiveness of the album, while the band's undeniably unique chemistry pulls everything together.
To suggest that the spacey, repetitive "Musee D'Nougat" might run the risk of alienating listeners would probably be redundant for a band who, let's face it, nobody is accusing of being too approachable. This is, after all, supposed to be a space-themed concept album, and considering the band's love of synths and especially of the strange, they showed remarkable restraint to at least save this one for last. If you happen to wait out the entire fourteen minutes, the end of the song does connect seamlessly back to the beginning of track one, meaning that you can keep the the record running on loop to your heart's content.
Earth To The Dandy Warhols is easily one of the band's most impressive efforts to date: a solid whole, but by no means lacking singles, ambitious, inventive, and perhaps most importantly, a lot of fun. The record looks back on the last thirteen years, but in no way does it suggest that the Dandy Warhols won't continue moving forward, whichever direction that might be. - derrick wiest