The Dandy Warhols have delivered a mixed bag of records across their twenty year career. Dandys Rule OK and Come Down deserve to be viewed as the defining records of their career, still sounding as fresh as ever today, while Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia threatened for a time to lift the Dandys into the stratosphere.
By way of chastening contrast, ‘The Grow Up Song’ that brings Distortland to a close sounds utterly flat. Courtney Taylor mumbles that he’s ‘too old for this’ as the song sputters to a halt, and one can only agree. There is a sense of churning out ten tracks to make a record in order to justify a subsequent tour, particularly so in a limp opening half of the LP.
This is a calculated production down to the tale of recording. Tracked on a cassette recorder in Courtney Taylor’s basement with ‘finishing touches’ put on in a recording studio, with Jim Lowe (known for work with Taylor Swift/Beyonce) at the helm and according to Courtney, ‘organised like a pop record but still has the sonic garbage still in there’, it’s hard to avoid the sense that much polish was added in the studio thus losing much of the initial spontaneity.
‘You Are Killing Me’ and ‘Doves’ deliver somewhat – the former lifting the chugging rhythm spread across the record with one of Taylor’s stronger melodies, while the latter breezes along like a vintage Dandys track. Ultimately though Distortland is a functional record, painstakingly created from a band that once carried an air of such effortlessness. Not that bad, but not all that good either – just the work of a jaded band.