Earth To The Dandy Warhols - the Warhols' first on their new label - is at once silly and serious, combining the best of the old with some refreshing new angles on a cool concept album that only The Dandy Warhols could possibly pull off. Most of the album is recognizably Dandy, combining swirling drone and out-of-the-atmospheric sounds with melodic, fun lyrics that would be right at home on Veronica Mars or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which may very well be where you first heard them). Alas, with both of those shows off the air, you'll have to head into the stratosphere to catch up with the last strains of the songs featured in those shows, even now soaring past Saturn on their way out of the solar system...
...which is right where Earth To The Dandy Warhols takes you. This space-themed concept album is half Jetsons, half Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the sort of psychedelic indie pop rock that Zaphod Beeblebrox might call froopy. And like that three-armed, two-headed alien from H2G2, "ET2DW" is also simultaneously slick and strange, familiar and yet unfamiliar, going down as smooth as a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster even if you're not quite sure what's in there. Shut up and drink it down; it's tasty.
Album opener "The World The People Together (Come On)" would be right at home on any Jane's Addiction album, combining epic, soaring falsetto vocals and jangly guitar with a laid back vibe suggesting that this trip into space isn't necessarily going to require a rocket ship, if you catch my drift. "Mission Control" temporarily brings things back down to earth in a big way, with a heavy, hard, industrial dance sound that sounds like Sisters of Mercy (from a time when goth was goth and emo was just a comedian) and looks (in the YouTube video) like the Smashing Pumpkins met Flash Gordon on the way to a My Chemical Romance show - quite a feat for a track that's just the other side of two minutes long. Not your thing? Not to fear: Track 3, "Welcome To The Third World," offers a much more frat- friendly sound, a bit of an homage to the Talking Heads (or even perhaps just The Heads, if you remember them) that brings things back down to Earth (hmm... track 3, third planet...).
And so it goes for the next ten tracks, crisscrossing crazily through the solar system, a familiar core repeatedly skirting alien terrain, assimilating its contents, and coming away somehow even more Dandy. "Wasp In The Lotus" blasts in from one direction, all fuzzy, Bowie- meats-GLU droning moodiness, and then from the right comes tracks like "Valerie Yum," garagey and happy and yappy and yummy. "Love Song," which features Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), sounds something like the Violent Femmes on planet Xanax, and then right around the bend is "Mis Amigos," which is something akin to The Beach Boys meeting The Refreshments in Tijuana for a couple rounds. "The Legend of The Last of the Outlaw Truckers AKA the Ballad Of Sherriff Shorty" sounds pretty much like you think it would, silly and country and swinging all rolled into one, like Tim Burton joining Marilyn Manson on stage to cover Johnny Paycheck. The album's only stutter is closer "Musee D'Nougat," a droning space anthem which at nearly 15 minutes long takes up space that would have been much better served by 2 or 3 other Dandy little ditties. Variety is the spice of space, after all, and despite a little bit of a near-fumble at the goal line, the Dandy Warhols definitely control the spice (and thereby your universe) - at least for an hour.
Favorite Track: "Mission Control"