Review of The Lemonheads
by Ira Robbins
From eMusic, September 2006
Evan Dando clears his 'head
Having floated through an indie-rock dream career with minimal visible effort, singer-guitarist-bassist Evan Dando left the Lemonheads — already a group in name only for the slacker dreamboat — and dropped out completely for a few years, releasing only a pair of inconsequential solo albums in the decade after 1996's car button cloth. With a sinking personal reputation and no evidence of untapped creative resources, Dando looked headed down the no-future drain — yet here he is, back with another album as good as any released by the Lemonheads.
Former Black Flag drummer Bill Stevenson, who co-produced and plays drums (his Descendents/All bandmate Karl Alvarez is the album's bassist), has shaped the brief songs into soft-edged but energized adult punk-pop over which the appealing melodies of Dando's airy voice easily float. The energetic, fuzzed-up electric rock lands lightly, but some of the lyrics carry a weight. "Steve's Boy" is Dando's painful message to his father, taking a different tack from the similar "C'mon Daddy" on car button cloth. The romantic disengagement of "Become the Enemy" avoids specifics to amplify its tugging, sad sense of "not how love's supposed to be." Continuing that theme, "No Backbone" addresses the "bedroom ritual" without enthusiasm, and the country waltz "Baby's Home" turns a sorrowful portrait of a collapsing marriage into a murderous fantasy. Old scene pal J Mascis contributes distinctive guitar noise to a couple of tracks, while one-time Band organist Garth Hudson slathers Hammond B3 into the jam of the relatively expansive (four-minutes-plus on an album that clocks in under 35) album-closer, "December." Deceptively easy to like, The Lemonheads is a stirring testament to what happens when real life overcomes its illusions.