This EP sounds less eager to please than their first album.
If you had never heard the Lemon Twigs, you would be forgiven for thinking they might have something to do with the retro psych-pop of the so-called Elephant 6 collective. Or, in terms of more recent bands, you might think of Tame Impala’s studio wizardry or of Ariel Pink’s unique brand of bizarro pop. The good news is, the Lemon Twigs are a band that wears its influences on its sleeve and yet manages to retain its own kind of unassailable peculiarity.
Their first album, Do Hollywood, was released last year and was produced by Jonathan Rado, one half of fellow Rundgren-heads Foxygen. There, the D’Addario brothers (Michael and Brian) showed off not only their instrumental talent—they are both one-man bands—but also their songwriting, crafting impeccably air-tight ‘70s pop though they’re not even of drinking age.
A bit glam, a bit baroque, the two dropped technically impressive, harmony-laden songs, but mostly they were songs that made you think, “Well, their parents must have great records.”
But their new EP, Brothers of Destruction, signals a marked improvement in their writing, which makes for very exciting listening. The minute-long “Intro” starts things off with whimsy, followed by the infectious “Why Didn’t You Say That?” with its feather-light drumming, bouncy basslines and trumpet flourishes. The third track, “So Fine,” is a jangly, Bolan-esque number featuring curious interludes reminiscent of the Unicorns (remember them?).
“Beautiful” is a tasteful acoustic ballad that, beyond its James Taylor-isms, features significantly more interesting and less clichéd lyrics than many of their typical songs. Its simple refrain is oddly haunting—“I can’t do anything/ I am nothing/ Our lives are meaningless/ Swim in the sunshine”—revealing a bit of darkness lurking behind the band’s naiveté.
“Night Song” was fun, but ultimately pretty forgettable, self-consciously weird in a way that felt forced. Finally, closer “Light and Love” layers the harmonies thick for a faux-Hawaiian overture before turning into an acoustic number with soft percussion and symphonic vocals. The drama on this closer was engaging, too, capturing one’s attention without any need for virtuosity.
This EP sounds less eager to please than their first album. How good they are truly remains to be seen, but many moments on this EP suggest there are promising things in store.