Rhythm & Views

The Lemonheads

The Lemonheads in many ways helped shape my pop sensibility: I always cite 1992's It's a Shame About Ray as one of my gateway indie albums, and "Into Your Arms," from 1993's Come on Feel the Lemonheads, was one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar. All of the boys were playing Zeppelin; I was playing the Lemonheads.

I must admit I was skeptical when news of a new Lemonheads album hit the virtual streets. How could a new Lemonheads album possibly top "Alison's Starting to Happen," or that jangly-brilliant cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson"? Could Evan Dando get back into that raft, wearing a nametag that says "Luka," 14 years later and stay afloat?

Well, he can get back into the raft, but it might be a bit rickety. The Lemonheads has its moments: J. Mascis' guitar winds wonderfully through "Black Gown," and the opening line of "Become the Enemy" is classic Dando snark ("It's not my fault, I never learned a trade"). "Let's Just Laugh" has the most memorable chorus hook, even though the first minute is some kind of masturbatory guitar-sound mess that the song could do without. The melodies are there; that sweet sound is there; but that sour youthful giddiness is gone, gone, gone--you wouldn't catch an older, wiser Dando writing a song like "My Drug Buddy" anymore. The Lemonheads might be a more psychologically healthy record, but, in the world of pop-rock, that's just not nearly as interesting, or as influential.

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