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The Lemonheads - The Lemonheads

The Lemonheads

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

IN THEIR heyday, The Lemonheads were capable of seminal work such as 1992’s It’s A Shame About Ray, as well as the riotously frivolous cover version of Mrs Robinson.

Sadly, they parted company in 1996 (following the release of Car Button Cloth) and lead singer Evan Dando went solo.

Ten years on, Dando has reformed the group and rolled out another album, or rather songs from the band’s greatest era that didn’t quite yet exist.

In order to do so, he convened two of his earliest influences – the unholy duo of drummer Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) and bassist Karl Alvarez (Descendents) – in a remote Rocky Mountain hideaway.

Dando and Stevenson also co-produced the eponymous album, while the latter wrote or co-wrote three of its 11 songs.

To make things extra special, there’s even a host of cameos from bassist Josh Lattanzi, rock giant Garth Hudson (of The Band) and Dinosaur Jnr’s J Mascis.

The result is steeped in nostalgia, or something akin to revisiting old friends after a long time away.

The faces may have aged but in many ways, things still remain the same.

Thanks to Dando’s distinctly soft vocal style, The Lemonheads provides a nice nostalgia trip without ever really coming close to recapturing the magic that made their very best stuff so darn essential.

Tracks like In Passing and Rule of Three provide really great listens but they fail to excite in the same way that previous Lemonheads material did.

The latter, especially, finds Lattanzi on bass and contains some genuinely rousing guitar riffs.

Forthcoming single Become The Enemy is another highlight, a genuinely impressive track about a lost love that contains some nice vocal layering going into the melancholy chorus. Dando’s vocals are superb, recalling the smooth style of It’s A Shame About Ray and Into Your Arms.

Poughkeepsie is another strong effort and one of the most upbeat records on the album thanks to some vibrant drums and another really nice set of vocals from a happier sounding Dando.

While the likes of Black Gown and In Passing provide fresh blasts of rock, punk and country all delivered in Dando’s inimitably laconic style.

Baby’s Home, meanwhile, marks a notable change of pace, emerging as a genuinely thought-provoking country-rock murder ballad that marks The Lemonheads’ songwriting at its most emotive.

So while The Lemonheads may struggle to reach the giddy heights of the band’s best work, it remains a welcome return that should rekindle the old fires among many diehard followers.

Track listing:

  1. Black Gown
  2. Become The Enemy
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. Let’s Just Laugh
  5. Poughkeepsie
  6. Rule Of Three
  7. No Backbone
  8. Baby’s Home
  9. In Passing
  10. Steve’s Boy
  11. December