Dandy Warhols This Machine album review

Posted on 16 April 2012
By Andrew Knightly
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Portland’s bohemian hipsters The Dandy Warhols release their eighth studio album This Machine which, like a retrospective mix of all the genres they have visited, makes for a disjointed sonic experience.

After nearly two decades into their career and various musical voyages into the waters of psychedelia and synth-pop among others, we can only name one of their tunes Bohemian Like You, but our memory veers back to the banned video which featured full-frontal male nudity, rather than their lyrics.

This Machine opens with Sad Vacation a shimmering, bass driven blend of electronic psych that although reminiscent of their 60s-styled 1997 Come Down LP, is solidly rooted in the 21st century.

The whispery melancholia of Autumn Carnival is hypnotic and haunting, as if from the ghost of fellow North Westerner Elliott Smith. This introduction sets the listener up for a rather somber but beautiful affair but Enjoy Yourself, with overtones of disposable hedonism, dash serious overtones.

Courtney Taylor has written the songs over a period of years leading up to the recording of the album – which could be largely responsible for the lack of unity amongst these tracks.

As a nod to John Lennon’s Power to the People, the Warhols’ alternative Well They’re Gone and Rest Your Head alternate from quick-paced instrumental freak-outs to glittery shoegaze ballads, and by the time 16 Tons rears its head (a Merle Travis cover that sounds like a drag queen attempting Tom Waits) the complete lack of continuity disconnects the listener with whatever feel it was that the Dandys may have been trying to convey here.

Whilst some songs on This Machine, such as the ethereal Don’t Shoot She Cried, conjure up the tones and drones of The Velvet Underground, we once again glimpse the potential that the Dandys have been promising since the mid 90s. Others unfortunately seem crafted with nothing more in mind than satisfying the generic Summer Festival party anthem herd.

Above all, the dynamic shortfall on this album – whether or not you have a penchant for ephemeral pop or retro indie – fortifies the suspicion that the format of the album as we know it is slowly drifting towards extinction.

With most of the content on This Machine comparatively superior to 2008‘s Earth to the Dandy Warhols, but only as isolated events, the Dandys encourage us to buy tracks individually rather than take a trip to the record store.