The Lemon Twigs – Songs For The General Public

The band haven't lost any of their extravagance.
Label: 4AD
Rating: ★★★

Following on from a concept album about the strenuous journey of a chimpanzee raised like a human by his adopted wannabe rock star parents, you wouldn’t be surprised if The Lemon Twigs delved even deeper into their delightful minds and reinterpreted altogether the idea of what a modern-day album looks like. Instead, on ‘Songs for the General Public’, the D’Addario brothers return to a structure more similar to their debut, ditching the ‘concept’ and instead presenting a collection of 12 standalone compositions. 

That’s not to say, however, that the band have lost any of their extravagance; their trademark glam theatricality remaining well intact, with several of the tracks at times sounding as if they would be well at home in a Broadway musical. Written, recorded and produced by the brothers, it is clear that they revel in the freedom of having complete creative control, their more than likely policy of ‘any idea can and should be explored’ resulting in an album with a vast and varied musical landscape. 

While these ideas are often refined however, they do occasionally lead to the album feeling a little chaotic at times. Michael, in particular, adopts a multitude of voices suddenly and erratically across the record that may be off-putting for some; he begins immediately on opening track ‘Hell on Wheels’ with his best Bob Dylan impression. Dylan’s presence can be found more effectively though on album highlight ‘Moon’, the harmonica solo combining with a Neil Young-esque style chorus to create an anthem you can imagine will one day be sung in unison with an adoring crowd at the finale of one of their gigs.

The Lemon Twigs are no strangers to wearing their influences on their sleeve, but their love for 70s rock, in particular, has always remained more of a homage than a remake. Their talent and creativity mean songs such as lead single ‘The One’ still feel fresh and original, while the idiosyncratic melodies of tracks such as ‘No One Holds You (Closer Than The One You Haven’t Met)’ or the fairground attraction that is ‘Only A Fool’ are hard to imagine being sung by anyone else outside the band. It is rare also to see anyone close their album with a ballad about incestual love (‘Ashamed’), but The Lemon Twigs have never really been one for following lyrical conventions. Despite the suggestion of the album title, this record might not appeal to everyone, but will no doubt find and delight an audience as passionate and as colourful as its creators.

Dominic Allum

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