Many a Lemonheads fan will be pleased upon the release of the band’s self-titled album — the eighth Lemonheads album ever and first in nearly ten years — not only because Evan Dando is back but also because he’s still Evan Dando. See, when long-inactive bands re-emerge to churn out an album, it usually means one of two things: The band members are eager to recreate what worked for them in the past, or they want to pull off something entirely unexpected. Either can be good or bad, but the former is obviously the more crowd-pleasing option, and the members of the Lemonheads must have realized this.
Here, they don’t stray from their own beaten path, presenting us with eleven solid, jaunty rock tunes. Starting out with “Black Gown,” a vague observation on mourning (which isn’t nearly as Goth-y as it sounds), the disc proves to be very one-note by the end of its duration. It’s not such a bad note, however, and if you enjoy the first song, you’re pretty much set. “Black Gown” is probably the strongest, but that’s not to say it’s all too steeply downhill from there. One of the most listenable, poppy fixtures is “Steve’s Boy,” which muses on the messy dynamics of father-son relationships in an ultra catchy way. “Baby’s Home” manages to harness emotive alt-rock without slipping into schlock, and the first twenty-nine seconds of it are a pleasant surprise. Dando sounds youthful and energetic all the way through, and that’s one of the most enjoyable aspects here. He seems glad to be making this music, something that oozes from each verse he delivers. The only time he really falters is with the mildly icky “Become the Enemy,” which, to his credit, he didn’t’ write.
The Lemonheads is a harmless, melodic album that brings familiar material to longtime fans and new audiences alike. I say “familiar material” more or less approvingly. There’s no shame in having a raison d’etre — as loose as this band’s may be — or wanting to stay faithful to it. As Dando backwardly, perhaps self-deprecatingly, notes in the opening track, “If it ain’t fixed, don’t break it.”
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