In the ephemeral music world, a quarter-century of activity sounds like a damn lot. That’s what the Dandy Warhols’ Why You So Crazy – out via Dine Alone Records since January 25th – accomplishes. To be accurate, it seals twenty-five years and the 10th studio album, just to celebrate two milestones at once.
The Portland-based quartet has already released three asymmetrical singles out of this new record. They anticipated indeed an eclectic result, a blend of mutant folk-pop and metallic, post-industrial tones. The work is an anti-structural “od(d)yssey” and shows multiple, uneven souls, in a pilgrimage through different musical galaxies. Jumping from popular to niche, oscillating from metaphysical to mundane, shifting from plain to uncanny and then mixing them all. Building up and assorting riffs, hooks, jingles and refrains in a sequential, almost random mode.
Parts of this exploration may either capture or narcotize along blank spaceship synth-cruises (“Terraform”, “Next Thing I Know”) or dissonant parenthesis (“To The Church”). The star-trekking enterprise at a point vanishes, landing on the classic prairies and choral blues tones of “Sins Are Forgiven”. This song is the perfect median between the cyber-billy of “Highlife” (where the main voice is McCabe’s) and “Small Town Girls”, with its automatic pop. There is also time for a psyche-dancing party, with “Thee Elegant Bum” and the first release “Forever”, a mix of electronic sound and darkness.
“Be Alright” is a self-fulfilling prophecy of the band’s success, irrespective of any recognition. The keyboard rules you out of reality and, without asking for permission, brings you up a staircase to hereafter. In the meanwhile, in another world, guitar and voice reword and refrain it all into a catchphrase of amusement. No need to wonder why this one has the genes of an indie-pop anthem.
“Motor City Steel” is the third and most recent single. In this voice-guided, pop-culture-parody-infused beat, irony seems to abound as the narrative device. Driving you along a simple yet universal story and having fun through the commonplaces of a nursery-rhyme highway. Just to keep up with internal contrast and go on the conclusive tangent, “Ondine” is the last and longest song of the album. It is fully instrumental, lead by classical piano and ruffled by a few, scattered, light synth-shocks.
If the multifaceted Why You So Crazy does not encourage clear-cut reception, its creative energy seems a solution to fill in the lyrical gaps. Just floating into them, as narration voids to enjoy or just misunderstand, in all liberty.
The Dandy Warhols are now in the midst of their European tour, with forthcoming concerts in Glasgow (January 30th), Manchester (January 31st) and London (February 2nd).