If there were really such a thing as time travel, it wouldn’t be all that hard to convince even the most astute music listener that the new album from The Lemon Twigs was a long-lost product from 1967, perhaps the one original copy hidden away in a time capsule until now. That year, the Beatles were still cute in their mop top haircuts, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, and folky harmony singers like The Mamas & The Papas and Simon & Garfunkel were still a going concern and, more importantly, still considered cool. Of course, the brothers D’Addario weren’t even born until 30 years later—Brian in ’97, and Michael two years later—so their love of Everything Harmony no doubt is an acquired taste that has fueled years of studious listening and imitation.
Now in their mid-20’s and with three previous releases under their belts, The Lemon Twigs have released this solid, 13-track collection of original music that expresses a deep appreciation of the music of that era. Take “Any Time of Day” with vocal harmonies that echo the lush choral settings by The Beach Boys, or the folky acoustic guitar of “Every Day Is the Worst Day of My Life” and “When Winter Comes Around,” which would fit nicely alongside the harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel. “In My Head,” one of the three singles released ahead of the album, is the epitome of Beatlesque, catchy melody, bright instrumentals with guitars that ring out, and like everything else here, vocal harmonies for miles.
Not only are the D’Addario brothers “obsessed when it’s everything harmony,” as they sing in the album’s title track, but the two Lemon Twigs not only write and sing all the songs, but they play all the instruments, and produce as well. Brian D’Addario provided the lush string arrangements for “Everything Harmony,” and the two collaborated on the horn arrangements that fill out the orchestration on “What Happens to a Heart.” Move over George Martin. While quite taken with that mid-60’s era songwriting, at numerous points here, they tap a classic melody that’s utterly timeless, like “Corner of My Eye” which would fit nicely in a period piece from the 1930s or ‘40s.
Given that my first real exposure to The Lemon Twigs was their performance opening for The Killers, earlier this Spring, I was initially surprised by the quieter, sensitive tone on much of Everything Harmony. In the live setting the band emphasized their more aggressive power pop and rock & roll stylings, even when playing songs recorded here, like “In My Head.” Live they played electric guitars exclusively, which are largely missing here, with the exceptions of “Ghost Run Free,” which is pure power pop perfection, and “What You Were Doing,” which opens with bold power chords, and includes the album’s one obvious guitar solo toward the end. The other surprise is that the underlying emotional tone here is rooted in angst and misery, as suggested in titles like “Every Day Is the Worst Day of My Life,” “Born to Be Lonely,” and “Still It’s Not Enough.” Given their passion for wrapping their songs in lovely melodies and sweet harmonies, rarely had human misery sounded so beautiful and attractive. The Lemon Twigs truly love Everything Harmony, and fans of music fans are sure to carve out room in their collection for this band of brothers.
Brian Q. Newcomb
For more of Brian Q. Newcomb’s music reviews, check out The Fire Note
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