“Fun” is, too often, used in the pejorative. It’s easily dismissed, it’s for teenagers or people who don’t care to really feel anything deep or meaningful in their music.
But there’s no other way to say it: The Dandy Warhols’ Why You So Crazy is so fucking fun.
The Dandy Warhols play with so many styles and forms on this album that it’s impossible to label it anything other than art-pop of the highest order. There’s a fearlessness to them, an ability to be weird and to trust that the songs will land, rather than hedging their bets and trying to match what everyone else on the scene is doing.
It takes a lot of trust in your audience to open with “Fred & Ginger,” a short vitamin of wax-cylinder jazz sounds, then immediately diving into the space-disco “Terraform.” It’s a marvelous sort of irreverence, but never treated with contempt or sloppiness. The band is committed to each and every sound they make, whether it’s the indie talk-funk of “Small Town Girls” or the breathy slow burn of “Next Thing I Know”
But for all of the electronic thrills, there’s an undercurrent of classic country and blues. “Sins Are Forgiven” is the kind of hymn a robotic Johnny Cash might sing. Meanwhile, bassist/keyboard player Zia McCabe lends her snarky-fairy sounds to “Highlife.” Her curious keyboard arrangements have never been better, refusing to fade into the background while also not being obtrusive. The Dandys have mastered the art of unifying their act to create an impenetrable wall of gorgeous noise.
An album this eclectic isn’t without some filler that pushes the boundaries of listenable. “Thee Elegant Bum” and “To The Church” are each melodically tiresome in their own way—and one of the few where they don’t feel musically in synch—and “Next Thing I Know” sounds like an underwater level of a really boring video game.
Lyrically, the album continues to defy expectations. “Motor City Steel,” the second country-inspired number, could have easily become a frightening cliché—Boy has truck, falls in love with a Girl, Girl wants to go to Paris. Frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor warns you that it’s about to get sad. Maybe she’s going to give up all her dreams. Maybe he’s going to murder her. But no, he tells her, “Good luck.” A love song for 2019.
Why You So Crazy is fun for the brain and the body. Weird enough to find something new with every listen, while remaining as slick and infectious and delightful as much of the Dandys’ dandy discography.