Smoke It Review (Long) From The Guardian

The Guardian
by Garry Mulholland
August 21, 2005


Fashion may have tossed the glam-poppers aside, but this song reeks of rock's decadent best, says Garry Mulholland.

The Dandy Warhols are a proper pop group. Pretty in a dirty sort of way; doused with a seedy glamour; blessed with a smart-dumb name and smart-dumb names like Courtney Taylor-Taylor; unafraid to be pretentious and affected because that's a pop star's job; and chock-full of big, juicy riffs and big, rockin' tunes that are all laced with a precious, potent sneer. For those of us whose pop cherry got popped by Bowie, Bolan, Roxy Music, Lou Reed and Iggy, the Dandies are an oasis of art-glam in a desert of sexless bloke rock, right down to the vital importance - in a gospel according to Talking Heads and Sonic Youth way - of having a cute-but-tough feminist icon in the band, in the shape of bass/keyboards heroine Zia McCabe. They are all slippery sex and drugs and rock'n'roll, with pure pop heart replacing any unnecessary junkie schtick, and, happily, they refuse to go away, even when they are completely out of fashion, which they pretty much have been throughout their 10-year career.

'Smoke it' is the first single from their fifth album, Odditorium or Warlords of Mars. The Odditorium is the band's studio/art-space/meeting-place, in a converted warehouse in their hometown of Portland, Oregon. The Warlords Of Mars don't figure in 'Smoke it', which seems less to do with excessive spliffage, and more about setting fire to that bothersome life baggage, and surrendering to the party principle contained within Rolling Stones-style loucheness, a jangling and nasty three-chord riff, and a bunch of smart-arse lyrical non-sequiturs along the lines of: 'Alimony, palimony/Don't get too drunk in Vegas/ At least not with a waitress.' You wait your whole life for this kind of advice.

It all sounds like a drink and drug-fuelled bacchanal in which the various Warholians decided to sort of jam in the midst of the orgy and somehow ended up with a hit song, before being pulled back into the primordial sex-sludge by transsexual mermaids on mescaline. If this idea doesn't appeal to you, then there's a James Blunt CD over there you can mope to, off you go, don't wait up. The other smart thing about Courtney and co lies in the existence of this Odditorium base, because the mistake most bands make once they sell a record or two is in leaving both the place and the scene that inspired them, and then wondering why they run out of inspiration. The Dandies re-create their own scene, help out other bands and artists, entertain visiting counter-cultural types, keep the network of like minds that best sustains creativity and that reminds them why they bothered in the first place.

'Smoke it' rocks so casually and righteously because it sounds like it comes from somewhere both solid and exciting. Lesser bands should put that in their pipes and ... you get the idea.

Smoke it' is available as a CD single and as a download from iTunes from 29 August. 'Odditorium or Warlords of Mars' (Parlophone) is released on 12 September.