"I really love your hairdo, yeah..." sings head Dandy, Courtney Taylor-Taylor, on "Bohemian Like You." The themes tackled on Thirteen Tales are familiar ones that we've come to expect from the Dandy Warhols: self-consciousness, attitude, drugs and depression. So why is it that I crave this record?
"Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth" brought the Warhols worldwide attention and airplay in '97. Thirteen Tales sees the band with much-improved musicianship and losing many of the effects and layers that once disguised and hid Taylor-Taylor's voice in the background. The words and vocals are deeper, coarser and more present. Yes, his word-smithery is still the band's weakest link, but new tricks like genre hopping pay off this time around -- we get a country number, a song called "Mohammed" followed by "Nietzsche" and a "Gospel" closing. The consistency and smooth track transition are further evidence of their artistic growth.
The Warhols' influences are obvious. "Bohemian Like You" opens with a guitar riff that shares one degree of separation from a bona fide hit by The Rolling Stones (see if you can guess which one). Momentary gratification is felt on these power chord-laden rockers, but the most satisfying moments are the jewels that are scattered in between. Tracks like "Godless" and "Sleep" are gorgeous, dreamy soundscapes, stirring up fragrances of The Factory and The Velvet Underground. Listen to this record alone (especially on a long drive) and you'll be convinced of its inner beauty, rather than its head-turning Pop Art superficiality.