Distortland, the ninth studio LP from Portland, Oregon quartet the Dandy Warhols, continues the band's post-Odditorium maturation, taming a bit of their edge. As singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor acknowledges on "The Grow Up Song," "I've got to admit, I'm too old for this shit." With less sleaze and more reflection, the Dandies retain their wit with a wink, but aren't as sneering as on prior releases. While their most popular hits tend to veer toward the infectious pop side of the spectrum, most of their albums contain a hefty amount of trippy dreamscapes. Distortland isn't as in-your-face as the more muscular tracks on This Machine, nor is it as shiny as Welcome to the Monkey House. Without any immediate hits like "We Used to Be Friends" or "Bohemian Like You," the band seems to have left behind that commercial urge on Distortland, instead focusing on vibes and sensations. The album struts but never fully rocks out, leaning heavily on the dulcet side. There are a few moments where the Dandies allow that grit to dirty things a bit, like on the nocturnal creep of "Semper Fidelis," whose sinister crunch could fit nicely alongside Monkey House's darker selections. The rollicking surf-boogie of "Pope Reverend Jim" sounds like a collision between "The Rockafeller Skank" and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, while the chugging power pop of single "You Are Killing Me" would make Weezer proud. Otherwise, Distortland is ready-made for wandering open roads and tripping out in grassy fields, especially on the enveloping fuzz of "Give." The psych-haze billows in on the opening "Search Party," a '60s-style acid wash that floats along on a synth cloud and hand claps, while "Catcher in the Rye" is a classic Dandies plodder with Zia McCabe's elastic bass providing a mellow bounce that sounds like the sibling to 2003's "I Am Over It." Other nostalgic nods pop up elsewhere: the bongo jam "STYGGO" ("some things you gotta get over") is a toned-down "Cool Scene," and the sun-splashed epic "Doves" could fit in nicely on the back end of Earth to the Dandy Warhols. While the band remains eclectic, exploring some new concepts and expanding on past sonics, Distortland doesn't meander as much as the Dandies have on past efforts, keeping things relatively focused. Although it isn't their strongest work, Distortland is an enjoyable late-era addition to their catalog that breathes as much as it pleases.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung