In July of 1997, Portland, Oregon Brit-pop clones the Dandy Warhols finally released their album Dandy Warhols Come Down. Though the full-length was actually the band's second, it was their first on Capitol, which they picked in '95 to end a major-label bidding war. By the end of '97, that sophomore effort had blown away the group's minor-label debut and spawned the catchy single "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth." It had also gotten very cozy reviews.
Three years later to the month, we finally get a new album. Unfortunately, the redundant and insincere Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia has made it painful to remember this band was once labelmates with Pere Ubu on Tim Kerr Records.
What were "nods" to influences on Dandy Warhols Come Down don't ring artfully at all on this album. Part of the reason is the Dandys are now using musical references instead of touchstones. They're also leaning on players from their own era more heavily than before (by that I mean other than Ride). Where the drum sounds from "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth" were ironically matched to those of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down," "Get Off"--the most complete song on this new album--feels like a misinterpretation of Frank Black's "Old Black Dawning." "Country Leaver" is a badly forged copy of Beck's "Jack-Ass." And "Horse Pills" features a voice effect that might cause Offspring to sue.
At its heart, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia is not that different from the preceding album; it's just not as smart. And it sadly presents the Dandys as a band without the all-important courage to get at anything new.