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Review of Lemonheads live at ULU - July 1990

by Mary Anne Hobbs from NME

Coulda done bitter

Lemonheads are dull. Tonight they play largely to, and for, the Lemonheads, and I wonder if they are actually aware that they have company at all. The audience (mainly slumped up against the walls, or snogging) appear to feel it. And it's far too easy to draw breath inside this usually intolerably moist-armpit of a venue. A major label A&R man in a spotted waistcoat, once the editor of Raw magazine, paces around, helplessly trying to interpret the glaring stagnancy of the event. A tricky business really. The Lemonheads should thank God that they're from Boston. It's okay to be a bit of a gawky slouch when you're from Boston - and consequentially one or two people will always stagedive.

There are three Lemonheads. Guitar/vocal lurch Evan Dando, bass player Jesse Peretz, and drummer David Ryan. But they are not a power trio.

The Lemonheads do not scour and gouge like Pixies, nor dislocate like Dinosaur. Not tonight anyway. Certainly, they imploy these influences - but scrawled weakly over the epidermis of their songs, when they could be clamouring at the very core.

There's a slack, lagging pace about the whole set - like coffee time on a college couch. And although the Lemonheads are at their best when they accelerate, they do not embrace real extremeties, or actually ever seem to arrive anywhere.

And this is the very crux of the issue, because regardless of their interesting American indie-guitar band status, the Lemonheads do not have one truly outstanding song. And moreover do not seem to be remotely concerned with the horribly average delivery of their dank, deriviate bum guitar thing. (Christ, I really hope that wasn't the whole point).

Even the light, lush melody of Mike "Monkey" Nesmith's "Different Drum" (featured on the a-side of a new three track 12" titled "Favorite Spanish Dishes") is pulped into a vacant and barely recognisible form. And, The Hits their cover of Suzanne Vega's "Luka" (recorded so vigorously last year), coats us like quick-drying cement.

The Lemonheads are supposed to be good. But tonight they do not threaten or thrill at all. Perhaps one of them fractured an eyelash this afternon, and was having a bit of a bad day. Who can tell?

 


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