Due to a few too many artistic detours that didn’t always pay the listener back, I put the brakes on my love affair with the Dandy’s a few years ago. It hit its peak in 2000 with the release of their third album, Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, featuring the now ubiquitous song “Bohemian Like You”. “Thirteen Tales” was just about perfect and not only have they not reached those heights in the three albums since, they don’t really appear to be trying or caring.
Their live shows are among the best out there though. The Dandy’s have extreme reverence for the Velvet Underground, and by association, Andy Warhol, the Factory, androgyny, heavy drugs, and other bands that have followed in the wake of the VU like Spiritualized, the Dandy’s closest relatives. Their band name isn’t just meant to be cute, it’s practically a mission statement. They’re fully capable of covering a wide array of styles from old country, to straight up pop, to spaced-out psychedelia, or even all three, and then some, in the same song. Their greatest strength, and the thing most appealing to me, is what I call “space management”. They create a mood by filling the air with sounds that enhance said mood, whether it be an unsuspecting harmony, or a pregnant pause before a guitar strum, or a sustained note, or a keyboard blip. The songs that last seven minutes are usually more satisfying than the ones over in three. They kicked off the night with my favorite song of theirs, “Mohammed” and ended with my second favorite “Godless”, which are the perfect examples of what I’m talking about.
When I first saw them in 2000, they seemed embarrassed by the popular songs and chose to ignore them in favor of the more experimental stuff. Now, as their albums get more and more experimental, like this year’s extremely underrated Earth To The Dandy Warhols, their shows seem to embrace more comfortably their commercial leanings. They have 3 songs that most people know, whether they realize it or not, “Bohemian Like You”, “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth” (sample lyric: “I never thought you’d be a junkie because heroin is so passé”) and “We Used To Be Friends” which was used as the theme to “Veronica Mars” among other things, and they played all three and played them emphatically. They weren’t just good to hear, they were good to hear from them. It seems to speak to a peace of mind that the band may finally be finding.
One moment kind of irked me though. This is a direct quote from lead singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor. “We just released our new album on our own label, so we are now officially an indie band!” A statement like that would only be made by a bunch of posers, which is a label that has plagued the Dandy’s since day one. Up until this new album, they were signed to Capitol Records and their songs were used for commercials and TV shows, surely lining their pockets in the process. The indie community sees a dichotomy in behavior with this. You can’t truly be indie, no matter how much you claim to be, if you’re on a major label and catering to the masses. I’ve never been bothered by this because I love them and want everyone to love them too, so if they hear them in a movie that’s a good thing. And, maybe being released from Capitol is what’s brought on the peace of mind they’re exhibiting. I just wish they hadn’t said something so shallow. I’ll forgive it though.
Like any worthwhile relationship, we’ve had our rough patches, but we’re soul mates. They’re the lover I’ll invite back into my life again and again because I need what they have. Coming to terms with this is a wonderful release.