Album Reviews

Album Review: The Lemon Twigs - Songs for the General Public (4AD)

Graham Reid
The Lemon Twigs - The One

The debut album Do Hollywood by New York brothers Michael and Brian D'Addario created a buzz in hip circles but in truth, it was an uneven affair. And as we noted at the time it was a lot of parts and never the sum of them. We let their follow-up Go to School – a concept album – go right past us but felt it was time to check in with them again because they certainly had a little something.

But here again, we hear a lot of references woven together (mostly Seventies pop), self-satisfaction with their own cleverness and an over-arching insincerity about it all. What does the album title suggest to you?

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The Lemon Twigs

The opener "Hell on Wheels" is an underpowered nod to Meat Loaf/Jim Steinman but with deliberately arch, sneering Lou Reed-like verses and a chorus which lacks the bombastic humour of Bat Out of Hell, "Only a Fool" sounds like it escaped from an earlier and lesser Todd Rundgren demo session and "Leather Together" is a throwaway punk/rocker thing which even they can't take seriously.

And nor they should, it's rubbish.

Yes, they are accomplished at the Seventies pop ballad ("Hog" which also looks back two decades further) and understand the economy of the pop single ("Fight", "Live in Favor of Tomorrow", the catchy "The One"). But mostly they serve to remind how much better (and original) their source material is.

Okay, their lyrics can be droll or wry ("Why Do Lovers Own Each Other").

But now three albums in it's hard to discern if they are going to go beyond their knowing pastiches and mostly near-miss pop.

They still sound more pleased with themselves than they should be.

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There's always time for fried chicken... apparently.

You get the feeling if this pop star thing doesn't work out they might just go back to acting.

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Released: 01 May 2020

Written By: Graham Reid Graham goes to a proper opera every year just to make sure they are still behaving themselves. Otherwise, he's immersed in everything from indie rock and power pop to world music and free jazz. He has always bought cheap'n'trashy secondhand and shiny new vinyl, and his long-running website has literally thousands of music reviews, interviews and overviews. Search parties have been sent looking for those who have got lost in www.elsewhere.co.nz