Follow Us on Twitter

The Dandy Warhols - Distortland (Review)

The Dandy Warhols, Distortland

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE DANDY Warhols have long been one of our favourite bands. Their success lies, somewhat perversely, in their familiarity.

From Boys Better to Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth via Bohemian Like You and Cool Scene, the US alt-rock outfit headed by Courtney Taylor-Taylor have developed a sound that is resolutely their own… and effortlessly cool.

Distortland, their latest LP, is infused with many of the same elements of a trademark Dandy Warhols success, from the hazy vocals and guitars, the borderline psychedelia and the pop elements, it all comes together somewhat beautifully.

Ironically, the LP was first recorded in Taylor’s basement on an ’80s cassette recorder with the band putting on the finishing touches in a studio. Jim Lowe (best known for his work with Taylor Swift and Beyonce) then mixed the album to give it more of a mainstream sheen than some of the band’s past albums. But even so, Courtney notes that the end result is an album that is “organized like a pop record but still has the sonic garbage still in there”.

Evidence of this can be found in tracks like All The Girls in London, which has a scuzzed up, dirty pop-punk vibe that The Stranglers might once have been proud of. It’s one of a few side-steps away from the more familiar Warhols sound.

But even then, you’ll find the odd flight of fancy on most of their LPs. It’s when they stick to the signature elements that the album works best, as on album opener Search Party, which shoots out of the blocks with a reverb heavy opening riff, before settling into an achingly hazy groove. That’s not to say the shoegaze elements over-power… rather, Taylor’s laidback vocals are offset by an infectiously catchy central guitar riff that just gets better with each listen. You could say it’s like The Stone Roses re-done with a Warhols’ alt-rock edge.

Semper Fidelis continues the bright early start with some atmospheric guitar work (there’s some crunching reverb) and a snappy chorus, albeit still shrouded in hazy vocals, while Pope Reverend Jim finds them at their most flippant, complete with urgent synth stabs, jagged guitar riffs and a rare forceful set of vocals from Taylor.

Having impressed during the early stages, the album then really starts to deliver on the highlights. First, Catcher In The Rye combines a chugging, almost lazy central guitar riff with a doozy of a chorus and another infectiously laidback vibe, before LP favourite [and former single] STYGGO, which again combines an incessantly catchy central vibe with some of the LP’s most volatile lyrics.

The story behind this one fascinates, given that it finds the Warhols at their most reactionary and political, as Taylor points out: “The world is full of corporate billionaire scumbags who pollute the earth, kill wildlife, cause cancer, secretly running nations into the ground, and the moronic masses who just agree with their mindless slogans and will never fight the good fight to help to stop them, until finally the last blistered blind three armed mutant dregs of humanity eat each other’s putrid flesh in mankind’s final nauseating death throws. Some Things You Gotta Get Over.”

Further on, Give offers up some soul-searching amid another beautifully laidback groove; You Are Killing Me comes over all sarcastic with cute melodies and slick beats offsetting the dejected lyrics, while Doves offers up a penultimate slacker epic that’s shot through with some excellent guitar work (and a blissed out set of vocals).

Trust us, if you’ve ever liked anything The Dandy Warhols have ever done, then you’re going to love this.

Download picks: Search Party, Catcher In The Rye, STYGGO, Give, You Are Killing Me, Doves

Track listing:

  1. Search Party
  2. Semper Fidelis
  3. Pope Reverend Jim
  4. Catcher In The Rye
  6. Give
  7. You Are Killing Me
  8. All The Girls in London
  9. Doves
  10. The Grow Up Song