ALBUM REVIEW: The Dandy Warhols’ “Why You So Crazy”

ARTIST: The Dandy Warhols + ALBUM: Why You So Crazy + LABEL: Dine Alone Records + RELEASE DATE: JAN 25, 2019

If the Dandy Warhols can do anything, it’s make a total mess of an album seem charming. Case in point: Their latest album, Why You So Crazy. On the first listen, my reaction was surprise. There’s electronic driven songs. There’s country songs. You have to admire any artist who’s willing to go out on a limb and follow their vision. After multiple listens, the charm wears off and you’re more likely to spin Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia to remind you why you liked the band in the first place.  I wanted to like this album. I wanted to call it a “neo-psychedelic trip that aims to challenge the Flaming Lips.” But, it’s just not that good.

In the current culture where songs weigh heavier than albums, Why You So Crazy is vulnerable to the unforgiving nature of short attention spans. The album lacks strong vocals, lyrics, a sing-along chorus anywhere in sight, or any emotional substance that would help you overlook these shortcomings. In fact, the album is so cold and sterile that it’s hard to even champion experimentation or the reckless abandon required to fuck the expectations of critics or the fanbase.

The album opens with the inconsequential “Fred n Ginger.” It’s a 40-second album intro that has nothing to do with the rest of the album. From there on out, the album is largely driven by electronic noodlings and knob turning. On a couple of songs, this works. “Terraform” and “Forever” are good examples. Electronic sounds percolate beneath sparse instrumentation and effect laden vocals. But, most of the time when the band reaches toward the atmospheric or meditative in this realm of ambient sound, it is either redundant or uneventful, like the tracks “Next Thing I Know,” “To The Church,” and “Thee Elegant Bum.” The band mixes things up on a couple of songs with the country-tinged “Highlife” and “Sins Are Forgiven.” Sadly, these songs lack strong choruses or memorable moments, but they are catchy for the first minute or so. “Be Alright” is probably the most Dandy sounding song on the album. Fairly straight-ahead, it shows evidence that the band hasn’t completely lost the plot; however, it does just aimlessly wander to its end. “Motor City Steel” aims for that catchy, pop-song of the summer feel, but is really just a big dumb song about cars. Closing out the album is the from-out-of-nowhere instrumental piano solo-thingy “Ondine.” It’s well composed and performed, but clocking in at six-plus minutes, it’s just kind of an odd tack-on to an already disparate and unfocused collection of songs.

Is the album better if you’re on drugs? Maybe. But, that should never be a prerequisite for enjoying music. Maybe the long time fans of the band will find something to appreciate, but this album isn’t going to win over any newbies. The main problem is that the songs seem undeveloped. Most of the vocals are whispered, making one wonder if this was a stylish attempt to hide poorly written lyrics. It’s not an awful album. Like I mentioned above, it has some charm to it. But, there’s not a single track that would find its way on a “Best Of” collection for the band.

– J. Kevin Lynch



The Dandy Warhols Tour Dates:

May 3 – 5 Atlanta, GA
May 6 Washington, D.C
May 7 Boston, MA
May 8 Brooklyn, NY
May 9 Toronto, ON
May 11 Chicago, IL
May 12 Minneapolis, MN
May 14 Denver, CO
May 16 Los Angeles, CA
May 17 San Diego, CA
May 18 San Francisco, CA
May 24 – Napa Valley, CA


 

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