At this stage in their career, The Dandy Warhols stand as an infinitely renewable resource. With the major label shackles thrown and now releasing their own records, the only standards Courtney & Co have to meet is their own. This is often the point where casual fan and band shrug shoulders and part ways, no more concerned with “writing a hit” than they ever were. If you don’t dig it now son, take a walk.
With The Dandy Warhol’s entering into their eighteenth year and seventh studio album, what would have been a fine old three album rave-up/fall-out/break-up (Rules Ok/Come Down/Thirteen Tales) has made for a surprising extended stay, such is the cash coupling of advertising and song. When notoriety and success claim a band, as it did with the Dandys on “Bohemian Like You”, the score is reset and the game begins anew (Monkey House/Odditorium/Earth To The), albeit with fresh expectations that were never going to be met.
What is unexpected is for them get it right with This Machine. With their strongest opening run of tracks since Come Down, “Sad Vacation” and “Autumn Carnival” float along on a subdued doing-our-thing psyche-rock vibe. Over lightning-like stabs of guitar, disembodied backing vocals, “Carnival” has the Dandy’s thumbing a ride back to their shoegaze roots only to leap forward to Thirteen Tales era on “Enjoy Yourself”, with Courtney pulling off his best Iggy Pop impression and riffing autobiographical while the rest of the band Devo along. Basically Iggy’s “I’m Bored” talked sense by Devo’s “Freedom of Choice”.
“Enjoy Yourself”‘s twin “I Am Free” builds on the same sentiment but drops the snotty bravado in favour of a straight up hook-filled light-hearted pop track that you can’t help but fawn over how well it’s pulled off. Exhibit A — The Dandy Warhol’s finding their way. As an album, This Machine seems almost unconsciously aware of how good it really is, and therefore unconsciously tries to not fuck it up (and more or less succeeds). It’s a relief for everyone who still holds a soft spot for Courtney, Peter, Zia and Fathead. The game ain’t over yet.