The Dandy Warhols, This Machine
Back on top of their game, remembering why they exist
Few bands surf the cusp of magnificence and mediocrity with the insouciance of the Dandy Warhols. The Oregon rockers are as capable of wearying self-indulgence as they are of sharp-witted inspiration: For every stone-cold classic such as Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia in their back catalogue, there is a tiresome clunker such as 2005′s Odditorium or Warlords of Mars. Thankfully, this eighth offering finds them eschewing the painful over-self-consciousness which can occasionally blight their output and remembering what it is that they do best: They are a fantastic, viscerally thrilling rock ‘n’ roll band. This back-to-basics mentality permeates This Machine from opening track “Sad Vacation,” a knowing throb of disdainful art-school cool, to razor-sharp proto-grunge romps such as “I Am Free” and “Enjoy Yourself.” The latter number, which reliably sardonic vocalist Courtney Taylor-Taylor delivers in the style of Iggy Pop, finds him admitting his Achilles heel: “I used to be a fool, too cool for school.” Of course, attitude is a big part of the Dandy Warhols’ appeal, and there is plenty left to go around, from the Lennon-referencing “Alternative Power to the People” to a preposterously lugubrious cover of Merle Travis’s “16 Tons.” This Machine is a truly marvellous thing: a rock band back on top of their game, remembering why they exist.