REVIEW: Dandy Warhols: Welcome to the Monkey House
The Dandy Warhols: Welcome to the Monkey House [EMI/Capitol, 2003]
Three words? self self self
Goddamn, who knew that being post-modern was such an introspective process? The world's most self-aware band - the Dandy Warhols - is back again with self-absorption fully intact and with a sense of self-infatuation that oozes from every corner of this flake of a record. Do you notice something strange about that last sentence, i.e. how many times the word "self" came up? Well, that grammatical faux pas to say that the Dandy Warhols is a collective of individuals obsessed with being rock stars: no other band has tried harder to live the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll lifestyle. No other band postures ad nauseum the way that these Americans do.
As the Dandy's back-catalogue is filled with equal amount gem and mis-step, one begins to realise that both consistency and relevancy are at a premium with this band. That being said, why would Welcome To The Monkey House be any exception? Uh... it's not, obviously.
Electro-clash has entered the mainstream zeitgeist it seems, as Fischerspooner, Tiga and Ladytron currently make respectable livings from copping Duran Duran records. Realising this market was viable, the members of the Dandy Warhols also counter-realised that they were two steps too late on the trend. So they went to the source (namely, Duran bass player Nick Rhodes) to helm the production. But, to quote the infinitely wise Claude Rajotte (MusiquePlus), "Qu'est-ce Rhodes a fait sur l'album? Un café? / What did Rhodes contribute to this record? Making the coffee?"
And while Welcome To The Monkey House blips and beeps with quirky '80s electro-rock flourishes, Rajotte is right: underneath the gimmicks are very hollow songs, tunes that melt like fleetingly sweet cotton-candy. Of course, celebrity skin like the Warhols wouldn't be complete without ripping off at least one so-called "influence." Welcome To The Monkey House's ninth track, "You Were The Last High," takes its main riff directly from Duran Duran's "Last Chance On The Stairwell," the under-rated centrepiece on the classic and unbelievably stylish Rio.
If there's one shimmer of hope on this glitzy mess, it's "The Dope (Wonderful You)." Incorporating a groove totally worthy of 1985, this is the hit synth-pop 7" which was never released. Even Depeche Mode (circa the early, non-misanthropic material) would be proud.
One can only wonder what kind of new record the Dandy Warhols will grace us with in two years. One can only dread the kind of trend-hopping record the Dandy Warhols will grace us with in two years.