Review of The Lemonheads
by Zack Yusof
From Malaysia Star Two September 2006
The new self-titled Lemonheads album finds charismatic main man and Gen X poster boy Evan Dando getting himself reacquainted with loud, rocking guitars all over again. It is their bid to recapture the magic of the band’s earlier releases and put a positive spin on their legacy which, as Dando admitted in recent interviews, could be a whole lot more impressive.
Despite having outlived many of their peers from the grunge era, that The Lemonheads is still not afforded the same respect could be due to Dando’s carefree, stoner attitude to life and music in general. For a long time, Dando’s image was more of a lovable party animal than a serious songwriter with major talent.
But with the release of The Lemonheads, Dando finds himself with a perfect opportunity to change popular perception and reinvent himself as a bonafide rock star all over again.
Just when people were expecting him to come out with more chilled out country rock in the same vein as his hugely enjoyable 2003 comeback Baby I’m Bored, the man opts to put out one of his loudest and most accessible records to date.
Boasting a new rhythm section – drummer Bill Stevenson and bassist Karl Alvarez, two musicians that Dando has admired since they served time in Eighties punk outfit the Descendants – the new-improved Lemonheads has conspired to craft an exciting collection of hook-laden, big-hearted power pop gems.
Among the standout tracks on the album is the excellent lead single Become the Enemy, a heartbroken strummy classic that is immediately accessible, melodic and beautiful.
Elsewhere, Dinosaur Jr frontman and guitar wizard J Mascis contributes trademark squealing guitar riffing to the thrilling No Backbone and the equally potent Steve’s Boy, a poignant track about a broken father and son relationship. Another guest musician on the record is The Band’s multi-talented maestro Garth Hudson who weighs in with some keyboard on the exquisite opener, Black Gown, and the album closer, December.
On the evidence of the wonderful songs on The Lemonheads, the newest chapter of the band’s career is going to be its most appealing yet.
Quite simply, this record is an unexpected gem that is easily on par with their finest release It's a Shame About Ray.