Dandy Warhols
"Welcome To The Monkey House"

(Capitol Records 2003)Dandy Warhols - Welcome To The Monkey House

Urban bohemia has changed since The Dandy Warhols' last album in 2000. As all the kids turned to garage rock, The Dandy Warhols turned to electronic rock. And with the help of Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes producing, "Welcome To The Monkey House" shows a new side of the band that was well worth exploring.

Taking the album's title from Kurt Vonnegut's book of the same name, The Dandy Warhol's open the album with the title track -- the album's audio prologue with simple guitar strumming and vocals. The simplicity ends there as "We Used To Be Friends" enters with its drum machine handclaps and static-y beats that quickly becomes ridiculously catchy after a few listens. And while the instrumentation isn't The Dandy Warhols you might be used to or expect, singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor's vocals retain that certain swagger and sexy draw as on "Plan A" but add a disco-esque Anita Ward "Ring My Bell" feel on the high pitched verse. "The Dope" kicks in with breathy beats and a thick bass riff and becomes a dark sounding disco dance tune. "Wonderful you, the dope you are/And beautiful me came for your party/Well lately I can't stop talking about you/And mainly I'm wondering why in the hell I left without you," Taylor-Taylor sings on "The Dope."

The crossover to a more electronic sound didn't seem to cause any problems as shown by the excellent programming that still allows the band to show their artsy side as on the layered, smoky vocals of "I Am A Scientist" and the bubbling, sizzling and lighter drug paraphernalia sounds of "I Am Over It" (which opens with the not so unconscious slip of "Let's see if we can do this is one toke--take"). Putting their name in yet another title, "The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone" is a short and sweet retro feeling tune, like a more electronic "Everyday Should Be A Holiday." And the band remembers their past with "Insincere," a slow dreamy ballad reminiscent of "Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia" as is "Heavenly," which oscillates between quiet and heavier riffs.

The Dandy Warhols show their smooth and catchy side on album stand out "You Were The Last High" as Taylor-Taylor assures the listener he is "alone but adored by a hundred thousand more." The piano plinking and familiar sounding "I A Sound" shows a softer side as "Hit Rock Bottom" has a stomping part guitar rock/part electronic rock feel and the slow and thumping, album closer, "You Come In Burned" sounds like a slow reprisal of "We Used To Be Friends."

For better or for worse, because of the direction the band took with "Welcome to the Monkey House," the album is short on great guitar riffs that are typically one of their strengths. While that lacking and the more commercial sound, at least compared to previous albums, might hinder some fans, at least initially, they need not be worried. "Welcome to the Monkey House" is more of The Dandy Warhols' catchy, poppy songs but with experimentation that unquestionably paid off.