The Dandy Warhols welcome all into the ‘Monkey House’

By Gus Bode

Pacific Northwest rockers add yet another mixed genre masterpiece to their eclectic catalogue.

By forcing color, creativity and a bit of absurd rock with dance beats into the somewhat dull era of music we’re stuck in, alt-rockers The Dandy Warhols have managed to separate themselves from the rest of the industry again.

I don’t believe I have ever once been instantaneously smitten with a Warhols release. Rather it’s been more of a chain of events beginning with me cursing at myself for purchasing a given Warhols album, but in due course the cursing evolves into this streamline of praise for the creation of said album.

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It seems, in my understanding, that I must have some implicit promise with this band, some subconscious trigger, where eventually I will become obsessed with any given CD they release. It’s really quite sick.

So it wasn’t surprising when I was left perplexed and frustrated after my first listen to “Welcome to the Monkey House,” the Warhols’ fourth album and third Capitol Records’ release, which came out on August 19. When listening to this band somehow I turn into a giant walking contradiction, because I hate being confused, but I absolutely love their non-cohesive approach to song writing.

I didn’t panic. I knew that the moment I gave “Monkey House” a second chance, I’d fall in love with this band all over again. Indeed, the love affair between the Warhols and I has begun once more and they’ve certainly outdone themselves this time.

The Warhols’ music is, in essence, clever stoner rock that’s just good for everyone. You might not always understand what a Warhols song means, or why you like it, but the point is you do, and that’s all that matters.

They have defined their personal style of music by being rather exceptionally unique. Example, not a single song on their third album, 2000’s “Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia” could fit together wholly into one genre of music. Each song is entirely separate from the one preceding it.

Also their lyrics are at all times amazing, even when repetitious. They just work, and there’s something to be said about that. The Warhols manage to write about relationships, getting stoned, and the rather random life happenings in an intelligently obscure way.

Lyrically their songs manage to fit musically, which is often something other bands fail to do. Remember, if you take a moment to really listen to the lyrical content of some songs, an awesome guitar riff doesn’t always mean the lyrics are going to be just as brilliant. In the Warhols’ case, you get the best of both worlds.

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All the lyrics to “Monkey House” are jumbled together on the flat behind the CD. Every song runs into the next rather than being spaced out in the little booklet. If it were any other band this would be dreadfully patronizing, but since it is the Warhols, regard it as part of their brilliance.

If nothing else take into consideration that:Nick Rhodes, keyboardist of Duran Duran, helped with synthesizer all throughout this album; Simon Le Bon, of Duran Duran, backs on vocals in track three titled “Plan A,” and David Bowie co-wrote track five “Scientist.” Hence, providing additionally respectable influences to “Monkey House”, and who can’t appreciate that?

“Welcome to the Monkey House” begins almost immediately with lyrics rather than simply being an instrumental, an approach that is out of the ordinary for the Warhols. A typical Warhols intro consists of flowing music dragging on for about a minute, some repetitious lyrics, and there you have it.

Take the timid beginning of “Be-in” for example, track one to 1997’s “Come Down,” or the outright amazing intro, “Godless” off of “Thirteen Tales.” Both of those songs start off as somewhat quiet instrumentals that gradually build melodically, adding repetitious lyrics only a full minute later.

Conversely, however, on the title track to “Welcome to the Monkey House” Courtney Taylor’s voice is the first thing you hear, and it remains very monotone and far from repetitious during the short song. Taylor makes social commentary on the mentality of listeners, while a minimal amount of music accompanies his voice. It’s very unusual. Though, perhaps I shouldn’t have expected any less from the Warhols, a very short first track that gets right to the point. It welcome’s us to the “Monkey House,” Dandy Warhols style.

The second track, “We Used to be Friends” is wicked fun, and the first single that will hit the airwaves. It’s complete with typical synthesizer and lyrics detailing the nature of people’s incapacity to be friends after dating.

It’s from there the album dives into the Warhols eclectic nature, and breaks away with a style different than the previous three Warhols albums. The majority of the album carries dance beats; extreme bass that is reminiscent of songs that could fit on a “Jock Jams” CD (refer to track five, the Bowie-influenced piece); some falsetto vocals done Damon Albarn-style (refer to track three, and seven cleverly titled “The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone”); some pretty impressive synth and keyboard action (thank you Nick Rhodes); and even some songs that are hands-down suggestive of “Thirteen Tales” (track nine “Last High”).

Once again the Warhols have pulled off a CD with a plethora of genres, and this time with a bit more consistency than their previous endeavors. Thus proving a band can break away from the mold, be elusive, offend you and have you come crawling back, admitting all the while you were wrong. And you know what? All of that seems to make for a damned impressive album as well.

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