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THE LEMON TWIGS Songs For The General Public gets 9/10


The Lemon Twigs

Songs for the General Public
4AD/Remote Control

9/10

With Songs for the General Public, The Lemon Twigs show themselves to be the most intriguing ‘retro’ band today, and arguably the best. This is a focussed collection of tongue-in-cheek,  ingeniously composed love letters to the 70s.

Long Island brothers Michael and Brian D’Addario have been practicing their unique brand of 70s pop idolatry since 2015, with first LP Do Hollywood released when they were still in their teens. Their sound is best described as 70s pop in a blender. Think glam rock posturing, harmonies, guitar solos, and bombastic piano ballads. The power pop of Big Star and Todd Rundgren freely battles against the bombastic balladry of Billy Joel or Meatloaf, often in the same song. Their delivery is more akin to an art rock band like 10cc or Sparks; self-consciously throwing these ideas into a meat-grinder and coming out with songs that feel like a symphony condensed into three minutes.

Their two previous albums contained some of the finest melodic moments in recent rock memory, but the song structures were so complex that one had to go looking for them. Not so with Songs for the General Public, which sees the brothers paring back the complexity but doubling up on the hooks.

The brothers’ debt to musical theatre was a sticking point on previous releases, but here they let it all out on the ditty Why Do Lovers Own Each Other? This leaves room for the rest of the album to let rip. Hell on Wheels opens the album and is a sneering but theatrical glam rock number, like The Stones without half the danger but twice the fun. The rest of the album doesn’t let up.

The falsetto-drenched staccato melodies of Somebody Loving You is where they recall the jokey art rock of the aforementioned 10cc and Sparks. Moon is all bombastic piano chords and Billy Joel vocal delivery, yet it’s so over the top it works. Fight is the best Springsteen song he never wrote. The One is a power pop masterpiece and one of the finest songs of the year regardless of how much of a throwback it is. Only a Fool is a crazy prog pop journey with beautiful and intentionally herky-jerky melodies underpinned by some Yes-like guitar riffs and intentionally busy percussion. Hog is a beautiful ballad with soaring melodies and a loveably rough delivery. Leather Together is a gloriously silly glam rock rave-up. And Ashamed is a mini rock opera whose closing half sounds like Lou Reed crossed with Meatloaf. With its bad lyrics and atonal solos, it’s the weakest track on the album, but it still carries its own slice of charm.

For those looking for something retro, fun and creative, look no further. It may draw from an older template, but this is an album brimming with creativity.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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