Since emerging from Long Island in 2016, The Lemon Twigs have lived by the motto that ridicule is nothing to be afraid of. The D’Addario brothers wear trousers so tight they fit beneath the epidermis, and their second release was a rock opera about a chimpanzee going to school.
Third album Songs For The General Public continues their outlandish journey by walking the fine line between superb musicianship (their hero Todd Rundgren guested on their last release) and being pastiche pranksters who take what they do very seriously.
It doesn’t take the band into new territory, but digs deeper into their madcap revision of ’70s soft rock. Although only three of the twelve tracks clock in over the four-minute mark, they all have an epic quality in their arrangements and use of semi-operatic backing vocals. There is the baroque inventiveness of Sparks on the likes of ‘Why Do Lovers Own Each Other?’ but, as ever, their references reach far and wide.
‘Live In Favor Of Tomorrow’ sees Byrdsian guitars combined with the head-bobbing pop of The Partridge Family; ‘Leather Together’ has the bluesy campness of the New York Dolls with added melodic craft and golden harmonies; and ‘Moon’ starts like The Who at their most pompous before tapping into the spirit of Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’, a recurrent touchstone on this classically glam-influenced record.
Closing number ‘Ashamed’ demonstrates what they’d be like if they dialled down the overkill. A Simon & Garfunkel-style meditation on incest, it nonetheless lacks the spirit that’s so charming when they’re being musical dandies.