ALBUM REVIEW: The Lemon Twigs – ‘Everything Harmony’

Artwork for The Lemon Twigs’ ‘Everything Harmony’ - the band standing on a metal staircase at the side of a building

In hindsight, you could’ve predicted that something like this would come around. The D’Addario bros’ penchant for some classic chintz was never going to end at some flippant glam-rock pastiches; they’re showmen, after all, with repertoires and such. At least, that’s what they’ve been selling, whether or not it’s been done all that effectively. Songs For The General Public certainly felt like an act, inasmuch as its command of ‘70s glam could feel like a rather stiff, beige recreation. Other than that one song about incest that’s stuck for obviously wrong reasons, the album has pretty much vanished in the three years since its release.

So here’s Everything Harmony, as The Lemon Twigs’ newest Vaudevillian sketch after a rather drastic costume change. Gone are any traces of the ‘70s in favour of something more akin to the decade prior, in baroque(ish)-pop and Simon & Garfunkel-esque folk and soft-rock. And it’s not like The Lemon Twigs don’t know what they’re doing; in fact, you could make the argument that, right down to some clear coats of artifice, they plan they’ve got laid out for this couldn’t be clearer. It’s just that what they are doing leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a reason this sort of stuff died on the vine over half a century ago, and to have it thrust back into the pop culture conversation of 2023 without so much as a gentle warning makes it abundantly clear why.

It’s not entirely charmless though, to be somewhat positive out the gate. At least with the swooning vocal harmonies on the blue-eyed soul balladry of Any Time Of Day, or the stately strings and dancing bells and whistles of What Happens To A Heart and Born To Be Lonely, there’s an amount of application that’s possible to utilise. So why it’s not done to a more impactful degree is a total mystery, and Everything Harmony royally suffers for it. ‘Pacing’ is nowhere to be found in this album’s vocabulary; it takes until the fifth track What You Were Doing before there’s any significant uptick in momentum, and even that’s only scrabbled together from morsels of a flat Britpop guitar strum. Obviously folk-rock like this has its limitations, but some effort to at least bend them would be appreciated, instead of just meandering for 13 tracks that drag on like nobody’s business.

The Lemon Twigs themselves aren’t helping matters either. Look past a sound that’s already dated and underwhelming under modern scrutiny, and the purveyors of it aren’t doing much to curtail that. Sure, they’re hitting the targets they’ve likely set for themselves—The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel come to mind quite a lot, as you’d expect—but again, it’s all crippled by the lack of application. There are no new ideas or swings for the fences taken that could feel like a rejuvenation; it’s all played totally straight, and therefore feels totally fake. There’s nothing about what The Lemon Twigs are doing that’s interesting, even in the confines of this style, and while the argument is there that that’s the point where their knowing artifice coalesces, the results still have to be good. It’s not some gotcha that saves lacking music, as most of Everything Harmony most definitely is. Hell, on Every Day Is The Worst Day Of My Life, built around that one titular line repeated over and over again next to an uninterested acoustic strum, it almost feels like it’s taking the piss.

That’s when it feels like nostalgia pandering for the sake of it, and when that’s directed at a generation who probably aren’t even listening to music anymore, the effort just isn’t needed too much. Neither Brian nor Michael D’Addario are great singers (even if their harmonising is something of a buffer); the writing is about as cloying as you’d expect from ‘60s-aping fare; and the generally uninteresting, uninvolved production is a given. For what it is, it sounds fine, but that isn’t leaping out or doing anything noteworthy. How very fitting for The Lemon Twigs then, who, even after a total overhaul, continue to elicit little more than a nonplussed shrug more often than not. It’s almost like throwback music, no matter how far it goes back, fails to be sustainably enjoyable without some kind of freshness or exerted effort to back it up—imagine that! Just sayin’, if The Lemon Twigs decide to go back yet another decade and make a skiffle album next time, expect largely the same results.

For fans of: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor

‘Everything Harmony’ by The Lemon Twigs is released on 5th May on Captured Tracks.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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