It takes a special kind of artist to draw heavily on music that came out decades before you were born and sounds both fresh and authentic while you do it, but this is exactly what The Lemon Twigs have been doing for four albums now.
For Brian and Michael D’Addario, the Long Island brothers behind the group, the past is a constant source of inspiration. Never shy about paying tribute to their many influences, their sound often walks the line between feeling timeless and something that fell out of another era.
Their fourth album, Everything Harmony (★★★★★) stays true to The Lemon Twigs’ particular brand of easygoing, feel-good vintage rock, but is a more dialed-back and contemplative outing.
The record’s dreamy sound and the baroque flourishes of tracks like “What Happens to a Heart” invite immediate comparison with Pet Sounds and the music it inspired in the decade or so that followed its release. Notably, there are few obvious modern touches in the instrumentation or the production — the album is not so much retro-inspired as retro on its face.
That The Lemon Twigs have again found themselves stylistically indebted to the ’60s and ’70s is not surprising, but the tight, cohesive sound behind Everything Harmony and its many idiosyncrasies mark it out as something special and uniquely their own.
From the first wistful bars of the opener, “When Winter Comes Around,” it is clear the D’Addarios have created something that takes its cues from those decades, but at the same time feels fresh and is unmistakably their own. One of the album’s absolute standout tracks, “Any Time Of Day,” would have been a hit in any decade, but it is difficult to imagine any other group producing it. It’s gentle and inviting, making it easy to get swept up and lost in its vocal harmonies and rich arrangements.
Despite its more pared-back quality, this is still a Lemon Twigs album at its core. “In My Head” is an immediate earworm, the kind of addictive song you want to sing along with before you even know the words. The album’s strength goes far beyond simple, instantly catchy melodies, however.
The sweeping arrangements of “What Happens to a Heart” and the complex uncertainty of the title track make for captivating listens. Even when the album slows down, it never lags. Every song serves as a reminder of the D’Addarios’ charisma and their natural likability that can’t help but ooze into even the moodier, more introspective songs.
The tracks on Everything Harmony are delivered with a heavy amount of introspection. Their tone is often melancholy but never quite tips over into somber. “Still It’s Not Enough” makes a convincing play for both the saddest and most beautiful track on the album, with overlapping vocal harmonies that layer and cascade over each other as they build towards a gorgeous conclusion.
Many of those lower moments are plenty of fun in their own right. “Every Day is the Worst Day of My Life,” a song whose only lyrics are those nine words repeated over and over against soft, beach-pop instrumentals, is such pure angst that it comes across as campy. Through most of the album, though, the songwriting is observant and reflective, and tracks like “In My Head” and “I Don’t Belong To Me” sound like they might be friendly conversations with the nagging voices in the back of your mind.
Pastiche can get tired and gimmicky quickly, but The Lemon Twigs have done something different with this album. Rather than appeal to pure nostalgia, they approach an era of music with the enthusiasm and respect of devoted fans.
Their appreciation for that era and the artists who have influenced them feels authentic, allowing them to bring plenty of personality into this record. Prior to the album’s release, the brothers stated that their goal was to create “something really beautiful sounding,” and with Everything Harmony, they have succeeded on every level.
Everything Harmony is available to purchase and stream on all major platforms. Visit www.thelemontwigs.com.
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