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The Dandy Warhols - Rockmaker (Album Review)

Wednesday, 20 March 2024 Written by Graeme Marsh

For album 12, the Dandy Warhols’ frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor had in mind a heavier, more metallic collection. While guitarist Peter Holmström took some persuading, drummer Brent DeBoer was on board immediately and, with the push coming from the two of them, it was too much for the indie-rock lifers to resist.

But coming off the back of 2020’s experimental opus ‘Tafelmuzik Means More When You’re Alone’, which comprised almost every cohesive sound they wrung from each instrument at their disposal, including toys, ‘Rockmaker’ feels much more like a conventional Dandys album. 

The upbeat lead single The Summer of Hate offered a misleading indication of where ‘Rockmaker’ might take the band, being considerably more upbeat than most of its companions, aside from the catchy Love Thyself.

Here, Taylor-Taylor delivers one of his more deranged vocal performances to underpin a major highlight.

The majority of the other nine tracks, though, trudge along in a darker, more sinister vein. Opener The Doomsday Bells is a sludgy chugfest with spy thriller undertones, but while Real People stutters into life through similar levels of fuzz and spoken word vocals, it’s largely uninspiring. So too are the central pairing: the featureless The Cross and the unexciting Root of All Evil. 

One twist, though, is that three of its tracks feature guest contributions, setting up some much-needed highs. The ingeniously-titled Danzig With Myself has Pixies’ Black Francis on board after he was coerced into breaking away from a family vacation in Zurich to hook up with the band. It’s an often scatty, messed-up delight, while Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist Slash steps forward for the excellent I’d Like to Help You With Your Problem, where a Black Sabbath-esque riff sparks another impressive racket. 

But best of all is Blondie legend Debbie Harry’s vocal contribution to the closer I Will Never Stop Loving You. Taylor-Taylor’s voice now sounds more hushed and menacing than ever before, twisting its love song roots into something voyeuristic. It’s unlike anything else in their portfolio and also arguably the best track the Dandys have laid down in more than 20 years.

‘Rockmaker’ isn’t the Dandy Warhols at their very best but it certainly surpasses much of their latter-day output. While putting out a heavier, metal-based record may have been the intention, the overarching theme is again thick, fuzzy guitars. That’s pretty much their calling card, but the weirdo appeal of songs such as I’d Like to Help You With Your Problem does make you wonder why they didn’t throw more caution to the wind.

The Dandy Warhols Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon April 22 2024 - AUCKLAND Powerstation
Thu April 25 2024 - BRISBANE Tivoli
Fri April 26 2024 - ADELAIDE Gov
Sun April 28 2024 - MELBOURNE Forum
Mon April 29 2024 - PERTH Astor Theatre
Wed May 01 2024 - SYDNEY Enmore Theatre
Tue March 19 2024 - LOS ANGELES California - Fonda Theatre (USA)

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