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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

ALBUM REVIEW: The Lemon Twigs - A Dream is All We Know

The D'Addario brothers build on the momentum of last year's excellent album

Lush harmonies, stunning instrumentation and an unerring commitment to mine and pay tribute to the music of yesteryear: The Lemon Twigs are back!

Almost exactly a year since they released Everything Harmony (which came 8th in 5-9’s best albums of 2023), New York’s Brian and Michael D’Addario return with their fifth album, A Dream is All We Know, which continues the momentum of that excellent record.

Diving deeper into their pastiche of The Beach Boys and The Beatles, the 12 tracks go in different directions with positive results. Critics of the band will more than likely refer to their music sounding ‘twee’ such is the sickly sweet pop they produce, and on occasions it crosses that line, but for the most part, the cynical appraisals are quietened by the brothers’ wonderful vocals and expertly constructed music which, when it hits right, is addictive and joy-inducing.

A Dream is All We Know rides the wave of the four singles which have promoted the album and three of these elevate the first half of the LP. ‘My Golden Years’, a surprise early year single, is a sunny pop song with melancholic lyrics lamenting the passing of time, ‘They Don’t Know How to Fall in Place’ features dreamy harmonies, sharp guitar and jangly clavinet and 'A Dream is All I Know' works as the album’s statement piece, paying homage to the living out of dreams as real life. All three are fantastic singles.

Elsewhere in the first half, cellos, mandolin and trumpets pepper ‘Church Bells’ which calls to mind The Beatles and ‘In the Eyes of the Girl’ reaches back to the ‘50s for inspiration with its barbershop vocals and innocent lovesick lyrics.

‘Sweet Vibration’s enjoyable chamber pop is punctured somewhat by an annoying ‘la-la-la’ refrain and seventh track, ‘If You and I Are Not Wise’, flirts with the twee criticisms levelled at the band despite more Beach Boys-esque psych-pop.

Thankfully, final single, ‘How Can I Love Her More?’ follows and lifts the quality levels back up to the band’s best with its violin-drenched perky pop. It is also the first of four sublime tracks which stand as the best stretch of the album, with the other three disproving the growing notion that the singles are as good as it gets.

Sun-drenched and ready for business: The Lemon Twigs (photo credit: Stephanie Pia)

‘Ember Days’ features folky acoustic guitar and trademark harmonies, ‘Peppermint Roses’ raises energy levels with Farfisa organ parts notable and the vocals quivering in a way not too dissimilar to System of a Down’s Serj Tankian over a ‘60s-esque soundtrack, while ‘I Should’ve Known From the Start’ is a lovingly crafted song detailing regret with violin, xylophone and acoustic guitar playing a leading role.

After finding their groove, final track, ‘Rock On (Over and Over)’ is a disappointing sign-off. The title sums up the nature of the track with the D’Addario brothers shaking off their pop inclinations for a fairly unadventurous rock number that could be a more forgettable Status Quo track.

With a run time not much longer than 30 minutes, there is leeway for the odd misstep or two, and A Dream is All We Know will have you rushing to repeat the experience. As Brian says in promoting the album: “There’s definitely an escapist bend to this album. Joyous music can take you out of the world when things get too heavy, which everyone needs sometimes.” The album certainly succeeds in taking you somewhere more joyful and nourishing than the raw sensory overload of the everyday.

Undoubtedly influenced by pop titans of the ‘60s and ‘70s, on paper, the project could seem trite, but in the D’Addario brothers’ hands, they are crafting some of the best music right now and certainly the best retro-tinged offerings. Same time next year, hey, chaps?

Rating: 8.5/10

A Dream is All We Know is out tomorrow (3 May) via Captured Tracks


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