This is the 8th studio album from the Dandys, following on from 2008’s Earth to the Dandy Warhols. So it’s been a while between drinks for the band and I was eagerly anticipating this release having been an enthusiastic fan of most of their previous works. Prior to the album’s release, front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor had amusingly blogged that it would be called “Pastor of Muppets”, “Shitty, Shitty Band Band” or “Whirled Piece”! Of course none of this came to pass unfortunately.
Featuring a rather more stripped back sound than previous releases, the album is slightly harder edged than, say Come Down or Thirteen Tales… and there is more distortion present on the electric guitars and bass, but there are still doses of their psychedelic swirling pop and moody synth lines…Look… I’m not going to beat around the bush any longer. This album is poor. It should never have been released. It should be stricken from the record forever. It sounds for all money like a feeble watered down attempt at aping The Velvet Underground or The Stooges. There are an annoying amount of effects on Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s vocals, and the album shifts inconsistently from drab and lethargic rock numbers to unimaginative and vapid slower musings. Courtney’s vocals, when not effect-ruined, sound terribly akin to a pathetic combination of a lazy, crooning Iggy Pop and a terribly out of tune Jim Morrison.
As usual I have listened to this album a number of times and as expected certain moments did grow on me slightly, but it’s just so bland and uninspiring, it clearly demonstrates that this band have run their race. The inclusion of a couple of cover versions further highlights this. A terrible rendition of Merle Travis’ “16 Tons” should never have been attempted and it is by far the worst song on the album… and that’s saying something! They also mangle a version of Violent Femmes’ “Kiss Off”.
I am really disappointed with this effort. It’s just so lacklustre, limp and just plain boring. And this is coming from a FAN! It’s not even suitable for background music as there are too many irritating vocal spikes and inconsistent dynamics. I don’t know what the band can do to redeem this dross. They could head straight back into the studio and record a classic, but that seems highly unlikely as they appear to be genuinely out of ideas.
I’m not going to name any meritorious standout tracks as there are none (oh very well, “Slide” and “Enjoy Yourself” are ok but are still sub par psychedelic pulp at best). The only standout is “16 Tons” as it is even worse than the rest of the tragically execrable rubbish on offer.
This Machine is monotonous, ill-conceived, flat, soporific drivel. The Dandys need to realize what year it is. There is just so much far superior guitar pop available right now from a plethora of bands.
This album could well be the last whimpering croak the band ever make, and if they intend to continue in this vein I certainly hope it is.
Author – Stewart Hall