Review of The Lemonheads
by August Forte
From Lumino Magazine, 21st November 2006
After years spent in the drug wilderness, Lemonheads main man Evan Dando emerged a little tougher and a lot wiser on his 2003 solo debut, Baby I’m Bored. The album was a frank confession of time ill-spent that exposed the onetime alt-rock heartthrob as a skilled songwriter with a knack for updating the troubled folk of Townes Van Zandt and Tim Hardin. So why, three years later, is Dando resurrecting the Lemonheads moniker for a self-titled album on Vagrant?
According to the press release, he “wanted to make a rock record, a melodic rock record” and was “sick of selling solo T-shirts.”
Dando’s reasons for a Lemonheads revival duly noted, the album in question finds the singer in fine voice and excellent company. Contributions from Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag), Karl Alvarez (Descendents), J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) and Garth Hudson (The Band) toughen up Dando’s songs considerably. Gone are the pop punk sing-alongs and sugarcoated covers that defined The Lemonheads in the 1990s. Instead there are feedback-enhanced rave-ups (“Let’s Just Laugh,” “In Passing”), post-hardcore rock songs (“Black Gown”), breathless perfection (“Rule of Three”) and experimental power pop (“December”). Throughout, Dando’s lyrics shine as testaments to an imperfect life lived to the fullest.
Ranking right up there with the classic Lemonheads LP, It’s a Shame About Ray, and Baby I’m Bored, The Lemonheads demands attention as one of 2006’s nicest surprises. Be sure to buy a non-solo T-shirt when the band hits your town before year’s end.