Review of The Lemonheads
by Dan Barnes
From In The News, 29th September 2006
In a nutshell
Well-crafted, melodic, rocking, country.
What's it all about?
The Lemonheads' first album in ten years and eighth album in 20 years is a kind of return to form from the group that were de rigueur at every 90s indie disco with It's a Shame About Ray and Mrs Robinson.
The group is really just Evan Dando – indie pin-up boy who's spent the last decade seemingly partying and being in rehab. Since the last Lemonheads album, Dando has released some a solo album and this new outing mixes the indie gangle and rock that the band are known for and the more chilled out country sound he put out under his own name.
Who's it by
On this eponymous outing for the Lemonheads, Dando is joined by Karl Alvarez and Bill Stevenson (both from the 80s US punk outfit the Descendents), meaning over the last 20 years over a dozen members have been drawn into the band. But basically it remains Dando's work, but Alvarez and Stevenson seem to push the tempo forward and add a little extra.
As an example…
Baby's Home – "My indecision is causing me pain. It's hard to conceal it and it's harder to name. But before I leave for work, here's some words that might hurt."
Likelihood of a trip to the Grammys
Well, Evan's not going to win any awards. It's nostalgia, but good nostalgia. It'll get good reviews because: (a) it's good, and (b) most reviewers grew up with the Lemonheads and wouldn't say a bad word against them.
It also means the 39-year-old Dando will be heading out on tour giving fans the chance to pretend they are young again.
What the others say
"It's good, at times very good. A welcome return." - Sunday Times
"There's a broken feeling about this album, a resignation that reflects the trouble of the intervening years." - The Guardian
So is it any good?
Well, it's Evan Dando. There is history there, even though it is almost 15 years ago since It's A Shame About Ray and Mrs Robinson came out, they still hit you with memories with just their mention. So why buy this and not dig out the old albums? Well what you get is the same good craftsmanship from a man who's cleaned himself up. You could live a good life without ever hearing this album, it's alright and not much more. The Lemonheads is far from groundbreaking but still a good album. It's a shame that it is not a great album.
While previous Lemonheads covers have had Dando's good looks on the cover, what you have with here is a grainy washed out image of Dando with a far off look in his eyes and in a sense the album is like that. There is the feeling that he has been through a lot and far from being reborn afresh, there is an infectious world-weariness. Even one of the most upbeat songs In Passing starts with the lines "Time goes by so very slowly" and Dando goes on to sing "If I knew that you were coming I'd have stayed awake".
His solo stuff was better, and if you buy this then Willy Mason's Where Humans Eat is well worth checking out for a younger more invigorated cynicism.
On the whole, this is short (35 minutes) and quite sweet.