If you ask me, the Dandy Warhols are one of the hardest-working bands to ever come out of the Pacific Northwest. I mean, how many other bands would keep going after releasing four albums and still not getting their due from regional audiences? Well, I know I wouldn't. In fact, short of Everclear, it's likely that the Dandy Warhols are the only Portland band that hasn't fallen prey to drug overdose or anonymity -- they probably even remember Everclear when they were still a respectable band.
So they're old, but the Warhols are far from dead. Their fourth album, Welcome to the Monkey House, came out last week on Capitol Records -- and it just might be the most advanced work they've turned in so far.
In the past, the Warhols relied on the low drones of keyboardist Zia McCabe to carry them through their albums. While her contributions are still there, the Warhols show so much more on Monkey House. The sound is less Velvet Underground than the other albums, and much more David Bowie. McCabe's keyboard is featured more on songs like "Scientist" and "I Am Over It."
Lead singer Courtney Taylor's lyrics come through with the same breathy style as the first three albums, but he proves here that he is much more than a pretty face. The former male model's voice breaches androgyny on "We Used to Be Friends" and on "Plan A" -- a range rarely heard on the band's other albums.
Drummer Brent DeBoer returns with the Dandy Warhols on Monkey House, his second recording with the band. With a history of having drummers sing backup, DeBoer's voice is featured much more on tracks like "Plan A" and "The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone."
As usual, guitarist Peter Loew provides strong riffs that carry the album, and he assumes his usual position supporting the eccentricities of the other band members.
Monkey House is very good, but also very different from the band's other work. It has, like the others, a token radio song ("We Used to Be Friends"), but it strays from the typical droning and shows some actual eloquence in mixing and sampling. With Monkey House, the Warhols show that, in fact, they do have a lot of talent. It simply may have taken them four albums to develop it.