The Dandy Warhols - Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars
Bill Cummings 12/09/2005
Following on from their critically lauded but commercially unsuccessful Nick Rhodes produced album “Welcome to the Monkey House”, The Dandy Warhols return with new album “Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars.” Taking a step back form the eighties and moving back to the trippy, country-rock style of numbers that powered up past albums like 95's “Dandys rule OK?” and their biggest hit “Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia”.
Indeed, after the premise is set up by a comical announcer (“the Dandy Warhols invented rock n roll after World War One” is an ironic nod to the fact that the Warhols are retreating here, to a more comfortable place for them musically) in the opening track "Colder Than The Coldest Winter Was Cold."
What precedes this is a neat enough listen, from the lazy laconic shoegazing MBV sonics of “Love is the New Feel Awful” whilst the Stonesy feel good rock beat of “All Or The Simple Life Honey” (despite the fact that it threatens to break into “Bohemian Like You” on several occasions) is extremely infectious and probably one of the best things here. Elsewhere the country ditty that is “The New Country” shows the Dandys are still willing to play with genres and styles to this day, and the title it self is a knowing wink. While “Everywhere Is Totally Insane” is a clever little lo-fi melody rapped around a thumping strummed beat, and “Down Disco”, built on a snaking rock riff and drums, sounds like a good mixture between the disco and rock sounds that inspired something like “Everyday Should Be A Holiday” in their past work.
But there are problems: the playful bluesy jam that is “Easy” replete with horns, guitars and drawled vocals clocking in at a whopping 7 minutes 32 seconds is at least three minutes too long. It's kind of symptomatic really, some of the tracks here could easily be chopped down to size without losing their sonic playfulness. It can bore the listener when too many songs just seem to float on by, like one long jam built on a strung-out riff, it smacks of the need for more self editing, or a sterner producer.
The first single to be taken off the album, “Smoke It”, is a relatively straightforward riot of colours, guitar shapes and rock vocals. It's the kind of song that goes down well in a club, or a house party, the vocoder vocals hinting at both Dylan and Beck whilst being suitably “good time.”
A good album that will probably satisfy their fans, as usual with Portland's the Dandy Warhols they inventively experiment with rock, country and indie musical genres to good effect. If only they could learn to produce a more concise focused vision of their sound, and were willing to stick with one or two ideas until they actually work, they could be more valued band than they currently are. Two steps forward one step back then.