It’s hard to believe that Portland, Oregan psyche rockers The Dandy Warhols have been plying their trade for 30 years, in fact its nigh on 25 years since breakthrough hit single ‘Bohemian Like You’ was plastered all over MTV and made the band household names on both side of the continent.

Now, singer/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor and his band return with their 12th studio album ‘Rockmaker’, self-produced and recorded by the band at their studio The Odditorium in Portland.

While The Dandies generally deal in fuzzy, shoegaze anthems for the outcasts, the disenchanted and the occasional Hollywood a lister, there are always a few stand out cuts that hint at Taylor-Taylor’s ability to pen a catchy radio friendly hit, and ‘Rockmaker’ is no exception. There may not be anything as instant and catchy as the aforementioned ‘Bohemian Like You’, but ‘Rockmaker’ certainly has its moments. And roping in celebrity mates like Debbie Harry, Slash and Black Francis certainly helps. Last year’s Iggy Pop-esque single ‘Summer Of Hate’ hinted at the overall vibe of the album. It’s as cool as the slick, AI generated video suggests, and recalls the power pop roots of the band’s glory days. It has the (raw) power to make you dance like no one’s watching.

Slash turns up for the stand our rocker ‘I’d Like To Help You With Your Problem’, a glorious behemoth of a song, full of 70’s rock bombast and touches of psychedelia for the tousle-haired guitar slinger to get his fingers around.

While Taylor-Taylor claims this album was inspired by the metallic, punk riffs of The Misfits, and is their take on where guitar-based rock n’ roll should be heading in 2024, ironically, it’s the prime 90’s Beck style tunes that come over as the strongest.

The funky, lo-fi ‘Root Of All Evil’ is a dancefloor filler in the waiting. With its blasts of horns and overly catchy hook, it’s one of those Dandies tracks that just feels as effortlessly cool as it is chic. It’s up there with the likes of ‘Bohemian..’ and ‘Junkie…’ for me after just a handful of listens.

The brilliantly titled ‘Alcohol And Cocainemarijuananicotine’ is full of electronica, pulsating beats and repetitive dance beats. It may be their answer to ‘that’ QOTSA song’ but comes across as the best song The Viagra Boys haven’t written yet. ‘Love Thyself’ is again, from the Iggy school of punk rock/power pop circa 1982. Basic rhythms, crunchy guitars and cool vocals delivered with the sort of nonchalant drawl that says “I don’t give a fuck, but fucking listen to this!”

‘Real People’ is raw, abrasive and real messy in a good way and Debbie Harry lends sultry vocals to the more subdued and dare I say, balladry feel of closer ‘I Will Never Stop Loving You’.

Call it alt-rock, call it art-rock, call it what you like, but with trademark fuzzy guitars, lo-fi soundscapes and anthemic moments littered throughout, ‘Rockmaker’ is a return to form from a band who continue to experiment and push boundaries with their sound. You could say no two Dandy Warhols albums sound alike, but they all sound like The Dandy Warhols, and ‘Rockmaker’ is as strong and fresh as their early releases. Which ain’t a bad a place to be 30 years into your career.

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Author: Ben Hughes