Reviews of Creator
Martin Aston - NME 1988
If American post-hardcore is the definitve mix of musical sour and sweet - sour, the sound of fractious guitars, melting, and sweet, the coils of melody mashed into the fire- then Boston's Lemonheads are the most suitably named yet. Spiritually too, these four peach-fuzzed Stand By Me (the film) understudies sound sweetly intoxicated to the point of distraction by their bursting Husker-pop blisters. But typically sourewd by the usual seeds of adolescent self-doubt, doledrums and living-under-George-Bush fears. Not for nothing was Lemonheads' debut called 'Hate Your Friends"...
If such sepia-toned rushes of mixed melancholia has been worked well through by Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum and The Replacements, Lemonheads' perfectly tormented strains will find a place to stand and quiver. They're slightly less obviously punky (the first album was Son of Stiff Little Fingers and Undertones foot-stamping) and increasingly wistful. Come To The Window's "seasons come and seasons go/I will always be here" seems to invert Hate Your Friends' self-deprecating messages (as in Fed Up and F----ed Up) but Sunday, Falling and Live Without's downbeatness still makes me think of Lemonheads as some American box-bedroom rebel equivalents to The Smiths.
Whether a straight-faced acoustic version of Charles Manson's Home Is Where You're Happy and a stroppy Kiss cover falls on the side of sweet or sour, well your guess is your guess. Lemontwist and shout, anybody?
Joe Pelone - Punk News, August 2012
Through the gift of hindsight, Creator can be viewed as the first step towards greatness for Lemonheads. They were still a few years away from It's a Shame About Ray, but the same ramshackle melodies and tossed off lyrics that would make them critical darlings in the '90s can be heard on this '88 release. Granted, there's also some other dude besides Evan Dando singing and a cover of "Plaster Caster" by Kiss thrown in, but that's part of the charm.
Dando, or the Guy Who Sings Lemonheads Songs You Know, doesn't show up here until track three, "Clang Bang Clang," but the other vocalist, Ben Deily, certainly holds his own. His is the punkier of the two voices, which suits the style since Lemonheads were arguably still a punk band at this point. Deily gets in some snotty shots before dropping the heartfelt acoustic number "Postcard." Maybe it's the sequencing, but this feels like his record, especially given the prominent placement of punky tunes like "Falling," "Two Weeks in Another Town" and opener "Burying Ground."
Still, it's what Dando would go on to do that probably brings most people to this record in the first place, and his presence here is compelling in a sort of academic way. Nobody shits out a melody like this guy; it all seems so effortless on cuts like "Out," "Die Right Now" and bonus live track/Suzanne Vega cover "Luka" (later recorded for Lick). His voice is a little rough and he doesn't contribute anything on par with, say "Alison's Starting to Happen" or the so-tossed-off-it's-awesome "Big Gay Heart," but he's still unmistakably Dando.
Creator was the last true effort from the band's original lineup. While Deily would contribute to Lick, he ultimately quit the band for good five songs into recording. Perhaps the best example of how quickly Dando cycled through band members can be illustrated by the inclusion of a radio interview with guitarist Corey Loog Brennan on Creator's CD editionâdude didn't even play on the record, and he was gone within a few years anyway. But while Lemonheads post-Creator pretty much became a Dando backing group, that doesn't negate how catchy their records got. Creator showcases both the dissolution of Lemonheads proper and the rise of Dando as a songwriter.
Michael James Hall - Line of Best Fit, 3rd October 2013
Devotees of The Lemonheads may well have some knowledge of a time when the band was a Replacements-inspired garage band in which vocalist/guitarist Ben Deily occasionally shared singing and songwriting duties with spike-haired drummer Evan Dando. This was, as Fire records would have it so crassly as the title of the set (including stickers. Yay. Stickers) that collects these three releases, ‘When The Lemonheads Were Punk’. Well, it’s true. They were. And here’s the evidence.
Creator is a ripped-jean stride on from Hate…, and it’s clear from the off that Dando has chanced upon at least a prelude version of the magic musical formula that would eventually serve him so well. ‘Clang Bang Clang’ with its ragged, shimmering chorus and suntanned melody, is a jolt of suburban twilight pop that clashes horribly with the following song ‘Out’, a sloppy fallabout of stoner thrash that foreshadows Dando’s stunned slurring of the more distant future.
When it seems Dando is about to run away with the record, Deily drops the glorious proto-emo of ‘Two Weeks In Another Town’, then the wonderful, plaintive ‘Postcard’. Conversely, Dando is guilty not only of a Charles Manson cover but then of murdering Kiss’ ‘Plaster Caster’ too. If he told you at this stage he’d go on to make a neat career sideline in reinterpretations of other people’s songs, you’d pull the Sham 69 patch off his jacket. It’s interesting to note that Deily’s style – sweet, well-observed and boasting power-out minor chord anthemic qualities – could easily be equated with that of Dando’s later collaborator and the writer of many of the ‘modern’ Lemonheads best songs, Tom Morgan.
Regardless, on the extra tracks the band are back at WERS, Dando muttering “Yogi Bear for President” for reasons only known to himself before launching into a set that sounds, frankly, huge. Messier, even than their ’87 session, they absolutely thunder through this. Loud, unhinged and vital, the highlight is a thrashing, spitting ‘Crash Bang Clang’ that can barely stay on it’s feet.
One would assume that the fanboy draw here is a live version of Blake Babies’ favourite ‘From Here To Burma’, with future Lemonhead and Dando companion Julianna Hatfield on lead vocal. She’s dreadful here, out of tune throughout and a reminder as much as her terrible performance at their two-hander performance at Queen Elizabeth Hall last year, that she can be unutterably awful at times despite her obvious talent.