The Dandy Warhols

Odditorium or Warlords of Mars

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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares

Although Dig! covered the symbiotic, love-hate relationship between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre more than thoroughly enough, more proof that the Dandies still want to be taken as seriously as the Massacre's misunderstood genius Anton Newcombe arrives with Odditorium or Warlords of Mars, an album that's half-inspired, half-embarrassing, and completely self-indulgent. As if the title weren't enough warning, Odditorium's opening track, "Colder Than the Coldest Winter Was Cold" -- in which A&E announcer/journalist Bill Kurtis explains how the Dandy Warhols invented rock & roll "after the great war" -- gets things off to a strange start. Unfortunately, in this case strange doesn't mean interesting or good. Odditorium is bookended by two of the most meandering, pointless tracks the band has ever recorded. "Love Is the New Feel Awful" is merely a song that could've been good if it weren't bloated with several minutes' worth of fruitless noodling. It's the closer, "A Loan Tonight," with its irritating, oddly strangled vocals, clunky keyboards, and listless guitars that go on and on for nearly 12 minutes, that is so infuriatingly bad you wish you could somehow un-hear it, and maybe the rest of the album while you're at it. Which is a shame, because the middle stretch of Odditorium has more than a few tracks that rank with the band's best work. "Down Like Disco" and "All the Money or Is It the Simple Honey" show off their skills as a smart, satirical pop group, while moody, hungover ballads like "Holding Me Up" and "Everyone Is Totally Insane" make emptiness seem profound. Meanwhile, "Easy," a slinky, hypnotic track that builds on a simple groove, and "There Is Only This Time," a spacious meditation with close harmonies and brass flourishes, balance the Dandies' pop and experimental leanings far better than anywhere else on the album. Taken as a whole, Odditorium is scattered and half-baked (in more ways than one), but its best moments are ripe for adding to play lists and mixtapes. Something this indulgent could only be a labor of love, but even die-hard Dandy Warhols fans might find embracing this album to be too much work.

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