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The Dandy Warhols: Welcome To The Monkey House

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Usually, music becomes a guilty pleasure when it tries shamelessly, and successfully, to please. With Portland's Dandy Warhols, it's always been the other way around. Sure, "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth" and "Bohemian Like You" have a neat command of the pop vocabulary, but when leader Courtney Taylor-Taylor and the band perform them, they seem far too bored to care whether they deliver any pleasure, guilty or otherwise. Dandy Warhols' best songs seem to succeed almost in spite of the group, as the hooks punch through the layers of hipster attitude. So it is with the further adventures in urban bohemia of Welcome To The Monkey House, which was given a retro glaze by co-producer Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. The sensibilities are a natural fit, as two generations of cool reserve hide behind catchy songs like the Bowie-sampling "I Am A Scientist" and the explosive, synth-driven coo of "We Used To Be Friends." Guest stars (from Simon LeBon to Tony Visconti) arrive at a faster clip than truly memorable songs, but the slick vibe allows the album to slink by until it arrives at bright spots like the transcendently trashy "You Were The Last High." That song allows both Dandy Warhols and guest star Evan Dando to carry on their tradition of writing druggy-sounding songs about giving up drugs. Monkey House runs out of steam sometime between that track's final note and the seven-plus minutes of futuristic dub that close out the album, but it still keeps inviting listeners to cast twinges of doubt aside and hit the playback button.