I’ve loved the Dandies for twenty something years. Circa 1994. Living in the mountains with only the ABC, RAGE was my salvation and link to the music world. Bohemian Like You became my mantra. So languidly obscure and mesmerisingly abstract.
Skip to 2016 and the band’s tenth studio album, Distortland.
The sound is minimalistic, lo-fi, fuzzed. Beautifully simplistic and hook laden. It was recorded on an 80’s cassette deck in Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s basement.
I asked ‘the dandiest Warhol of them all’, drummer Brent de Boer for his take on it.
“We are simply releasing the album on cassette as well as digital and CD and vinyl. Cassette is for old school people who still listen to them and like to listen to whole albums front to back. I hope you like it,” he said.
It starts out all fuzzy and chugging along, with track Search Party and jangling on with Semper Fidelis. The clever and dreamy Catcher in the Rye. The pumping reverb of Pope Reverend Jim.
Give is languid and lilting and Doves floating and soaring. STYGGO is maybe most typically a Dandy’s tune though all songs are unmistakably theirs.
The single, You are Killing Me, is imploring. The film-clip is brilliant. A variation on artist M C Escher’s “hand” drawing. Two pens draw two hands. As the lyrics plead:
“I don’t look back before I leap
Can’t take it anymore
So you’re killing me…”
The pens start attacking each other’s hand. Scissors are drawn, a knife. Stab. One draws a noose around the other hand. A cannon, spilt acid, a syringe. One pen morphs into a knife and severs the other hand’s finger.
“You’re making it harder and harder and harder / And you ain’t telling me much that you love me anymore”.
The pens stab, stab, the hands gush blood as the song fades away slowly.
Drip… drip… drip…. flat-line.
Poignant. Profound. Beautifully sad distortions.