The Lemon Twigs - Songs for the General Public (4AD)

The Lemon Twigs – Songs for the General Public (4AD)

Ever get the feeling you don’t belong at this point in history? That your tastes, your attitude, your ability with technology are far more suited to decades long past?

These boys were born at the wrong time.

Brian and Michael D’Addario were brought up with their Dad, Ronnie and Godfather, Todd Rungren ringing in their ears and dancing in front of their eyes, so they never had a choice. Seventies flamboyant rock runs through their veins like cheap heroin.

Yet, homage can only get you so far. Especially when the bands you are aping are still alive and still doing the thing they invented.

With album number three the orchard floor is full of apples with one big tree stood in the middle.

Hell on Wheels’ is basically a big crush of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want‘ and ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together‘ right down to the Jagger preening which is audible (you can hear the curled bottom lip and hands thrust behind the back and the duck walk across the stage).

Live In Favor of Tomorrow‘ begins like ‘8 Miles High‘ by The Byrds and doesn’t sway far away from that, except there are only two part harmonies.

If it isn’t just pastiche then it’s The Lemon Twigs by numbers, without the clever hooks and charm from their debut record. This does go a little way to bringing them back to form after the frankly terrible Go to School, a “rock opera” about a monkey that….. goes to school. Previously described as being all about the concept and little attention to the songs, there isn’t much a of concept and is just a massive let down after their excellent first album Do Hollywood.

The shtick is wearing a little thin. One brother is the nice melody, sensible singing, not an ounce of controversy in him, whereas the other is dyed hair, make up caked, leotard wearing, high kicking “rock’n’roll star”. It’s all just a little contrived. Which would be fine, if they had the tunes to back it up with, but it still falls flat.

To be fair ‘Moon‘ is the catchiest chorus they’ve written for a long time but it still lacks the quirky tangents and clever change of pace in the middle of a verse, or a sudden key change to keep you on your toes.

Just to make sure they keep a touchstone with their last work, there’s a song called ‘Hog‘ which appears to be extolling the virtues of a pig. It’s all just a bit ridiculous.

The fact that they are so precociously talented is well documented and yet they seem to be forcing the issue. ‘Why Do Lovers Own Each Other’ possesses some of the spark and bizarre tangents but the melody just isn’t there. They are just doing it because they can. Final track ‘Ashamed’ appears to be about the love that doth not speak its name, beginning all gentle and acoustic but without the pitch perfect harmonies and melody of, say, ‘How Lucky Am I?’ which then descends into a wall of feedback and wobbly vocals. Perplexing.

If the first LP was a circus, and the second a poor man’s Tommy, then Songs for the General Public is a pedestrian walk through nineteen seventies glam rock, with the occasional lunatic jumping out in front of you.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.