These guys need little introduction. This is their tenth album in just over twenty years. When you are in a certain mood you can stuck on nearly any Dandy Warhols’ album and be satisfied with the result. They're a real vibe band. Bez would be at home with them. And even more so on Distortland as it bears a very Manchester sounding influence. The opening track, ‘Search Party’, sounds like the Happy Mondays minus the funk, and lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor channels Ian Brown on this and a number of other songs.
Dandy Warhols know their strengths. They evidently set strict parameters on their sound early on but play with the freedom to explore every corner of their own arena. They are not targeting a demographic or trying to shoot for mass appeal. They're too busy being Dandy Warhols.
They seem to have an egalitarian approach to the music too. While Taylor-Taylor is the main songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, he is not overly favoured in the mix of Distortland. All the instruments, including his vocals, are given equal priority and rarely does his voice rise above the surface, let alone dominate the sound. Even the guitar solos are often buried between the keyboards and bass. The other side of that particular coin is that the flat production fails to sell the tunes to the listener. There are no big hooks to bring you into the song, they are there somewhere, trying to get out and grab you but without being highlighted in the mix they fail to connect.
Overall Distortland is, like the production, solid and unspectacular, with not a dud tune in sight. Current single ‘STYGGO’ (Some Things You Gotta Get Over) is an obvious choice with its gently chopped guitar line, do-do-do vocals, and a nod to Tommy James and the Shondells ‘Crimson and Clover’. Taylor-Taylor’s lethargic vocal style suits the message of the song brilliantly. Alongside that you have the chunky guitars of ‘You Are Killing Me’ in a one-two combo with the synth lead stomp of ‘All the Girls in London’.
Those highlights aside, this is a dull album. It sounds like the second disc of the deluxe edition of an anniversary reissue of a good Dandy Warhols album. A collection of songs that never realised their potential. The production, the songwriting, the arrangements are lazy and there’s little here to reward repeated listening.