The Dandy Warhols
This Machine


3.5
great

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
April 22nd, 2012 | 7 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Get over Thirteen Tales and listen to this.

On The Dandy Warhols' 8th studio album, This Machine, there is everything for everyone. The band made sure each listener would find some tracks that suits one of the styles they have approached in their 18 year career. However, as a whole the album fails to truly please all the fans, since trying to cover all the ground usually leads to inconsistency . Their previous albums were all love it or hate it, but mostly following the same musical path throughout it. This is what makes This Machine one of their most inconsistent albums, even if this finds itself on the love it side more. Over the course of 43 minutes the listener will listen to something similar to what they've put out before, but will not be able to point out one thing that ties this album together.

This Machine also marks the end of Courtney Taylor-Taylor's supreme reign over the songwriting duties, with drummer Brent DeBoer and even keyboardist Zia McCabe backing him up on a few songs. Even if all the members of the band have different side projects, whether is Taylor's krautrock outfit One Model Nation, Zia's country tinged Brush Prairie, Pete Holmstrom's alternative Pete International Airport (which is really cool) and the Brent's folky solo album The Farmer, 95% of The Dandy Warhols' tracks were written by Taylor-Taylor, sometimes with Pete's help. While each member turns in material, Taylor's compositions still remain The Dandy Warhols' defining tracks.

This Machine starts strong with the bass heavy, sing-along opener "Sad Vacation". The down-to-earth groovy bass line is a departure from the usual mostly guitar led tracks and it sounds refreshing for The Dandys. Pete's guitar work shines on this particular track, his sound having a broken feel created by a lot of reverse reverb and delay. Slowly growing, towards the end he takes off bowing the strings (as seen in the track's video) and looping his leads having a cool twisting sound. Second track, "The Autumn Carnival" is a great collaboration between the Warhols and former Bauhaus bass player David J. Haskins, that blends a really nice, more nostalgic melody with an upbeat rhythm. The buzzing guitar leads and the lovely chorus where, again, everyone joins in make this track awesome in its simplicity. This track in particular and the sparse, mandolin-led "Well They're Gone" give a more settled, mature feel of the band.

From here on, the album struggles to find its feet, leaning towards krautrock with "Enjoy Yourself", which is an interesting track, a lot more mechanical than what is found on the 2003 effort, Welcome To The Monkey House. Taylor-Taylor even adopts a fake German accent and a very impersonal tone, turning everything into a fun listen. "Alternative Power To The People" is a less interesting counterpart, having a punkier rhythm, getting very close to Green Day's synth heavy side project The Network. The vocals are processed and sound glitchy, making them unintelligible.

Diving further in the album, it becomes even harder to follow up, however, centerpiece "Rest Your Head" is another highlight, with lullaby-like guitars, atmospheric synths and reverbed choral vocals that merge together beautifully. Another standout is the album closer "Slide", one of DeBoer's tracks. This rather nostalgic number features less vocals and more instrumental parts where the band fuses effects soaked guitars with 80's like spacey synths creating a wall of sound that keeps still for two minutes before shutting off creating a really interesting, hypnotic ending. Again, it's something different from The Dandy Warhols, who have spent a vast majority of their career droning one rhythm with little changes, relying mostly on the catchiness of the overall result.

Still, as any Warhols album, This Machine contains some tracks that do not belong here or are just plain lazy. Besides "Alternative Power To The People", "Don't Shoot She Cried" is an unsuccessful attempt at recreating the wonderfully hypnotic gem off Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, "Sleep". This dirge drones for 6 minutes, at some point McCabe and DeBoer, the composers, try to create a choir effect with their voices, but the two don't match and the whole thing just sounds dissonant.

In the end, it's nice to see The Dandy Warhols maturing a bit and also stepping out of their comfort zone after such a long time with all members submitting tracks, but this is what makes this album inconsistent. Each member has its own ideas and point of view, so even if This Machine is refreshing at times (with Courtney Taylor-Taylor shining most again), each track goes different paths (pastiche, krautrock, blues rock - "18 Tons" is a Merle Travis cover -, neo-psychedelia) leaving the listener somewhat disoriented. Taken separately, most of the material here works even if not mentioned (I would've needed more paragraphs and even this way the review is too long), but as a whole it doesn't establish itself like the other albums have had, whether good or bad. Needless to say, everyone should give This Machine a spin.

Highlights (for the ones who won't listen to it all) - "Sad Vacation", "The Autumn Carnival", "Rest Your Head", "Slide", "Enjoy Yourself"



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other reviews of this album
Nicholas Johnson (4)
While there’s inevitably an Enjoy Yourself to every Autumn Carnival, the sparse divide in output s...


Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2012


3452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, I still like these guys. So listen to this. I hope this makes up for the rather crappy reviews for Odditorium and Earth To The Dandy Warhols written 4 years ago.

Sad Vacation - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Kic0YfPd_M
Stream here the rest of the album - http://www.nme.com/news/dandy-warhols/63270


Digging: The Ting Tings - Super Critical

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2012


4443 Comments


This is a pretty well-written review. I've had a lot of people tell me to check these guys out, definitely going to give them a listen. Pos'd.

bloc
April 22nd 2012


34927 Comments


I used to be really into this band when I was younger but I still enjoy them from time to time. I'll check this out.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2012


3452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Paperback - Thanks! These guys are really cool, don't know why Sputnik hates them that much. You should definitely listen to Thirteen Tales To Urban Bohemia, Welcome To The Monkey House and if you're more into neo-psychedelia, The Dandy Warhols Come Down.

@Bloc - They haven't changed much, but they've been dropping solid material over the years (except Odditorium where some of the tracks are horrible and some amazing)

tarkus
April 22nd 2012


5560 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

might get this

BaseballJames
April 27th 2012


376 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Alternative Power to the People" is the worst track on this record by far. Rest of the record sounds pretty good though. Good review too.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 27th 2012


3452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks BaseballJames, I totally agree with you, although I think Don't Shoot She Cried is on the same lever with Alternative Power To The People. Still, the album is good, it's a more mature record than anything The Dandy Warhols released before.



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