Dandy Warhols

Rockmaker review | The Dandy Warhols embrace dark psychedelia

30 years into their career, The Dandy Warhols embrace a darker, brooding edge on 'Rockmaker', proving the old adage wrong with every psychedelic note.

Anyone who believes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks has clearly never popped on a Dandy Warhols record. 30 years into their career, the alt-rock troupe have yet again adapted their sonic tongue; Rockmaker embraces the group’s penchant for woozy psychedelic soundscaping, while also injecting it with a darker, more brooding edge. Pairing the buzz of post-punk with a cynical wit, Rockmaker presents The Dandy Warhols’ in their coolest form yet. 

Right out of the gates, ‘The Doomsday Bells’ sets Rockmaker up for greatness. The track is a slick, immaculate whir of frazzled guitars elevating Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s deep, musing vocals. ‘Danzig With Myself’ only builds on the opener, adding a classic psychedelic edge as Taylor-Taylor’s sprechgesang floats in a whirl of twanging guitars and melting sonics. The Pixies’ Black Francis’ guitar solo is also a total treat, with the two groups’ sounds working together effortlessly.

READ MORE: Pixies interview: ‘This album has given us that same excitement as Doolittle’

The featured artists help expand this record’s world, pushing The Dandy Warhols to place even more genres under their neo-psychedelic microscope. Slash’s feature ‘I’d Like To Help’ With Your Problems injects a metal edge, delivered with a hypnotic indie flare, capturing something totally calm and composed, embodying an almost Spiritualized or David Bowie-like sound.

The composed atmosphere captured on Rockmaker often feels at odds with the group’s power pop days- but something playful is nestled into the odd track. ‘Teutonic Wine’ has Taylor-Taylor performing in his usual dry fashion, yet there’s a smidge of humour within his laissez-faire delivery.

‘Alcohol And Cocainemarijuananicotine’ is the most overt example of this laid-back sarcasm, with Taylor-Taylor drawling out memories of the drugged-up 60s and 70s, like how people used to “eat a whole bicycle – it used to be a thing, Google it.” The track is a patchwork of high, almost scandalised vocals contrasting with mumbled, unbothered recollection of self-destructive tendencies, resulting in a total stand-out.

However, while the album can thrive in its juxtaposing textures, the contrasting tones can occasionally drag a track down. The sparkling xylophone notes stark a deep bassline, and monotonous vocals on ‘Real People’ or ‘Root Of All Evil’ undoubtedly elevate the track, giving it a quirky, unique edge, but ‘Love Thyself’ really misses the mark. The instrumentals ooze character, a timeless, buoyant alt-garage-rock anthem – and then those muted, blocked-nose vocals hit. It sucks the life right out of the track, a total mood-killer. 

Overall, Rockmaker is a burst of hypnotic, multi-faceted alt-rock. It can blur into one, but that’s almost its charm – you sink into the frazzled, peculiar world of sound, swept away in the Dandy Warhols’ timelessly offbeat charm. Twelve albums deep into their career, Rockmaker further proves that Dandy Warhols continue to feel just as fresh as the newer bands on the block, and they’ve still got plenty of juice left to evolve and grow for years to come.

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