The sound of two men taking nearly 50 year old references and reframing them for today. For a refreshing twist on a vintage sound, nobody does it more impressively
When Brian and Michael D’Addario first appeared with The Lemon Twigs‘ debut album Do Hollywood in 2016, they seemed like prodigiously talented aliens beamed down from another time. Quite how these teenagers could perfectly recreate acts like Todd Rundgren, Supertramp and Big Star and make it sound bang up to date was a mystery.
Yet they did, and they’ve continued this as they’ve grown into their 20s. Yet the problem with bands that often sound like pastiche is that it can sometimes seem a bit too arch, a bit too knowing. If there’s an entire catalogue of Brian Wilson albums out there, why listen to a couple of teenagers doing an (admittedly uncanny) impression of him?
The duo’s fourth album, Everything Harmony, addresses those concerns for the most part, and is comfortably the D’Addario brothers’ best album to date. While the ’60s and ’70s influences are very much still worn on their sleeves, this time around they also stamp their own personalities on most of the tracks. Everything Harmony feels like the first Lemon Twigs album where we hear the brothers themselves, rather than as copyists of musical legends.
It’s all beautifully played and produced of course (by the brothers themselves) – the beautiful jangly pop of In My Head is an early highlight, and shows just how well the siblings can harmonise, while What You Were Doing could easily be an out-take from a Teenage Fanclub album – another band who, of course, have never been shy to display their Alex Chilton influences.
There are also several detours into acoustic folk that sounds like prime Simon & Garfunkel, with the opening When Winter Comes Along and Still It’s Not Enough full of gently plucked guitars and choral harmonies. Now and again, there’s a misfire, such as Every Day Is The Worst Day Of My Life, which is simply the title repeated over and over again, and becomes increasingly whiny over three and a half minutes.
What’s most impressive about Everything Harmony is the arrangements on display. What Happens To A Heart is a gloriously overwrought ballad with some complex orchestration, mixing strings, a French horn and a harpsichord, while the title track is simply the brothers harmonising with each other over a string section which works beautifully.
It’s testament to the duo’s talent that they can switch from intricately arranged songs like the title track to relatively simple guitar power pop like Ghost Run Free, a song with a chorus so euphoric you’ll be dancing in your seat while listening to it. There are also nods to Rubber Soul-era Beatles on Corner Of My Eye, while the swirling strings on Born To Be Lonely stay just on the right side of saccharine.
Of course, if you’re looking for anything that sounds remotely contemporary, then you’ve probably worked out that The Lemon Twigs aren’t really the band for you. For everyone else though, Everything Harmony is the sound of two men taking nearly 50 year old references and reframing them for today. For a refreshing twist on a vintage sound, nobody does it more impressively than The Lemon Twigs.