Online review of Welcome To The Monkey House

Online review
Welcome To The Monkey House
by Pete Allison
March 8, 2003

I managed to get a promo copy through a *very* kind mate who works for a magazine here in the UK. I’ve had an evening to listen to it and here are my initial thoughts, track-by-track. I should also say that I’m a little confused as to track titles. The press release track listing and the official website’s tracklisting differ so I may be getting mixed up.

I’ll keep it brief:

Electro, falsetto, handclappy, fucked-up Dandy fun.

Welcome To The Monkeyhouse:
Genius 65 second intro. Reminds me of the ‘band plugging in’ intro of Be-In. A Wire-sh guitar riff drives the tune which namechecks Elastica, Wire AND Michael Jackson. Cool mission statement.

Used To Be Friends:
If you’ve heard Justin’s mp3 you’ll know what to expect. Traditional Dandys with a spin. A Strutting, 5-chord electro stomper. Probably the most ‘typical’ Dandys track on the album. Excellent choice for a first single.

Plan A:
Reminds me a little of Minnesoter. Courtney does the first of a few falsetto vocals which sound fantastic. Mid-paced, percussive and sexy with a nice understated guitar part. Should be cool live.

The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone:
60s electro. Catchy, poppy harmonies and that falsetto again. Nice cheezy sounding keyboards.

I Am A Scientist:
This one I’m not so sure about. Very electro/dancy with a very 80s programmed sound. And the bassline sounds suspiciously like Michael Jackson’s Bad (i kid you not). Maybe its’ a grower.

I Am Over It:
An insidiously catchy, slinky mid-paced track. Features some very clever vocal effects and harmonies. A real grower.

The Dope:
Genius! Where the Dandys traditional harmonies meld with a dance beat to a truly great effect. The chorus reminds me of recent French dance music (Felix Da Housecat/Air). A standout track. Visconti produced (I think)

Insincere Because I:
Begins like something from ‘Rule OK’ mixed with Pete International. A really nice understated guitar part and some gorgeous harmonies.

You Were The Last High:
You all know this one (I hope). I love it, and those who don’t may well have ‘problems’ with Monkeyhouse. The album version is the same as the Spin CD version btw.

Spacey treated guitars give way to a gospell-ish chorus. Surprising, but not entirely convincing (I hope that makes sense). Again, will be interesting live.

I Am Sound:
THE Ashes To Ashes clone. Shameless but brilliant. Gorgeous harmonies. Sweet, funny and sad. Another standout. “Singing, na,na,na, na..”

Hit Rock Bottom:
Another breathy love-letter to Bowie? Boys Keep Swinging is name-checked alongside some tidy guitars. One of the few more ‘typical’ Dandys tracks.

You Come In Burned:
Shoe-gazing electro. A cool ‘minimal’ ending to the album. Similar to the opener (Used To Be Friends) in that it’s the old Dandys sound fucked-up and freshened. Guitars and bleeps and harmonies.

So that’s my initial reaction. My favourite records always take a while to grow on me. I think the best records always do. Monkeyhouse looks to be a grower and I doubt it’ll be out of my stereo from now until the end of Summer (at least).

In conclusion to my waffling; It’s a very brave album. It would have been VERY easy for the Dandys to have knocked out a Stonesy pop-rock album off the back of ‘Bohemian Like You’. Credit to them. They’ve experimented and advanced their sound to create something familiar yet different.

Those looking for repeats of Boho etc should be warned. The (treated) guitars are there - you just have to listen that bit harder for them.

It’ll be a while before I can say if I love this album as much as Rule Ok,13 Tales and (especially) Come Down. The album needs to be heard live and requires repeated listens.

I hope I haven’t pissed anyone off ‘reviewing’ the album. The May release seems like a very long time away right now, but I guess with these promos out, it won’t be long before the album hits the net.