CD Review: The Dandy Warhols ARE Sound

dandy

Six years ago, The Dandy Warhols glammed up their trademark psycho art rock sound with a little help on the production end from Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and released Welcome To The Monkey House. The resulting record was a polished, modern, electro-flavored dance popgasm including the unforgettable “We Used To Be Friends” (Veronica Mars, anyone?).

Despite the band’s success after the album’s release, it was actually an alternative mix that they had hoped would make the final pressing. Capitol Records, however, did not share their vision. The Dandys’ preferred version was pushed aside in favor of the more commercially acceptable Monkey House mix and that was that—until now.

Thankfully, the iron hand of major label creative oppression has since released its grip on four of Portland’s best. Following the fairly recent creation of their own label (Beat The World Records), The Dandys are now, finally, complete and proud masters of their destiny.

Their new position allowed them the freedom to give life to their favored Monkey House mix, which was released as The Dandy Warhols ARE Sound. The man behind that lost mix was producer Russell Elavdeo, famous for his work with soul artists such as The Roots, Alicia Keys, Common and D’Angelo. Elavedo’s stylistic influence produced an album with sounds far removed from the sleek, yet one-dimensional, package that fans will remember from Monkey House.

Elavedo’s mix introduces elements of drama, and pleasantly frayed edges. Take “We Used To Be Friends” for example, which is allowed space to breathe between explosive choruses instead of snappily barreling ahead to sneak under the more radio-friendly 3 minute and 30 second mark. Zia McCabe’s synth lines slowly pulse between Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s breathy sexpot vocals.  Similarly, “Burned” takes on a much more meditative, sprawling, dreamily drunk character than its Monkey House NIN-esque counterpart (“You Come In Burned”) when Taylor-Taylor’s voice is lifted from layers of lush studio wizardry.

In short, it’s the intimacy and palpability of The Dandy Warhols ARE Sound that makes it so appealing. Sure, we all like to be buried in the heaviness of couldn’t-care-less sound from time to time, but in the age where indie innovation is king, experiencing the Dandys’ “new” vision of audible pop art as something much more than a product is nothing short of thrilling.

-Shelley Peckham

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