Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

The Lemon Twigs fully embrace retro-rock on A Dream Is All We Have

"A Dream Is All We Know"

Release date: 03 May 2024
The Lemon Twigs A Dream Is All We Know cover
02 May 2024, 09:00 Written by Connor Shelton

Contrary to popular belief, zoomers are not complete idiots.

Their knowledge of music extends far beyond Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and Billie Eilish. Their musical literacy doesn’t typically extend too much further than the 80s, but you’ll find pockets of old heads throughout the world who can discern the difference between the Byrds and the Monkees. For almost a decade, the Lemon Twigs have been a champion for these select few given their mix of camp, jangle pop, and lush harmonies and on A Dream Is All We Know, the group plunders from their past, and fully transitions into retro-rock cosplay.

As if it weren’t obvious from the album’s promotional singles, A Dream Is All We Know is a departure from last year’s Everything Harmony, which toyed with softer sonic palettes and emotional vulnerability. Despite its patchy sequencing, the album marked a major step forward for the Lemon Twigs thanks to its sonic cohesiveness and relative restraint. The new album, by comparison, is a more slapdash affair, though not quite as over the top as their early material. Songs like “My Golden Years” and “How Can I Love Her More” show a sense of melodic refinement that comes with years of experience, and the tracks arguably stand toe to toe with the music of the Monkees or other B-tier 60s groups. The former track even opts to tackle its subject matter seriously, something that would have been unheard of on 2016’s Do Hollywood. The song’s message of not letting time slip away doesn’t exactly break new ground, but you can’t fault the brothers when the song’s mix of Beach Boys harmonies, chiming 12-string guitar work, and Springsteen-esque propulsion is so goddamn intoxicating.

Unfortunately for the Lemon Twigs, not every song is a 9/10 power pop gem. Most of the material is pleasant at best, and while the lack of overcompensation is appreciated, it makes the group’s lyrical deficits that much more noticeable than on previous records. Consider the name of the album, A Dream Is All We Know. It’s an apt title for a band made up of late 90s babies, and an even better idea to address lyrically considering what they have been born into: zero job prospects, stagnant wages, ungodly housing prices, out-of-touch boomers running the country. While the D’Addario brothers do offer throwaway bits of insight on “They Don’t Know How To Fall In Place” and “A Dream Is All I Know,” they never push themselves to be provocateurs like some of their obvious inspirations. At best, they play it safe with songs about girls, guitars, and good times and at worst, offer up clunky Ringo puns which make you want to gouge your eyes out.

To critique the Lemon Twigs for their lyricism seems harsh considering their priorities. No rule says they must be advocates for the revolution, yet after five albums, one would expect the group to have some semblance of the kind of power they’re tapping into by invoking nostalgia. It can be a great inspiration and building block for fabulous works of art, but in a culture so laden with retro-rehashing left and right, the whole golden oldies thing feels staid and at worst, like a propagation of better times which did not exist. On a musical front, the D’Addario brothers are mixing enough of their influences together that their act doesn’t come across as pure pastiche, and on some songs, that’s all you need. The Sean Lennon-Ono produced “In The Eyes of the Girl” is as dreamy as any pre-Pet Sounds Brian Wilson ballad, while “If You And I Are Not Wise” taps into something transcendental with its mix of jangle pop and cosmic country. Songs like these would probably make Adam Schlesinger blush, but unfortunately for the Twigs, there are times when they prove themselves too devoted to nostalgia. “Ember Days” is a largely competent ballad who’s restraint elevates it over the goopy material from Everything Harmony, yet the incessant “na na nahs” toward the end of the song completely hamper the vibe of the track. A similar trick is employed on “Sweet Vibration,” suggesting that the brothers could use another creative voice to bounce off of.

If the brothers truly want to keep tapping into the well of 1968, then that’s fine. The results are broadly welcomed, yet they’ll never escape the reality which separates them from the Beatles or the Beach Boys, which is that they’re a B-tier singles act at best. They don’t know what it really means to be a rock and roll band, but that’s no surprise. All they know about music comes from secondhand dreams.

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