Review of The Lemonheads
by Paul Hernia
From Art Rocker
When bands who have been around for a while decide to give their new album an eponymous title, they're sending out a clear message: "we're going back to basics guys. This could have been our debut. Forget the wayward directions we've experimented with in recent years - this album is what we're all about. It's got everything that used to make us great".
So Lemonheads: Lemonheads. Evan Dando hasn't gone so far as recruiting the original band members he acrimoniously split with in the late 80s. But he has put his band together from some of the leading punk rock lights of The Lemonheads' formative years. We've got Bill Stevenson and Karl Alveraz from The Descendents on drums and bass. John Kastner from the criminally underated Doughboys gets a mention as 'guidance counsellor'. And Gibby Hanes supplies several seconds of sonic weirdness.
For people (like me) who spent their college years trying to copy the chops and tunes of those bands - the opening blast of 'Black Gown' is a hairs on the back of the neck delight. Dando's melancholic, richly toned voice provides some consistency with the last couple of records. But this time round there's the kick and energy of the punk rock Lemonheads of the Hate Your Friends and Lick albums. It's a sound I never thought I'd hear again in new songs, and the first spin of this record was a genuine thrill.
Nostalgia aside however, in the context of the current musical landscape, it is a bit of a curio - on these shores at any rate. It's not artrock. It's not urchin rock - Dando's probably been too wasted in recent years to even have heard of Pete Docherty - the irony! There's no sharp edges to it, and it's not full on and angsty. But is a great collection of killer tunes played with energy and enthusiasm.
I hope people new to the Lemonheads get it.