When does a musical homage bleed into the territory of blatant rip-off?
The argument has stood for years by “purists” who staunchly insist rockers Led Zeppelin were nothing more than pilferers of the work of classic blues artists or that most hair metal bands had taken all their cues from Boston rockers Aerosmith in their prime.
While The Lemon Twigs have been subject to this type of harsh critique, it truly isn’t fair to say that the young pair of brothers who make up the core of the band are musical bandits.
The influences that appear throughout the Twigs’ two previous albums are vast and varied; it isn’t uncommon to hear traces of Harry Nilsson, Sparks, Beach Boys and Utopia on those two fine platters. But with the band’s latest release, Songs for the General Public (4AD), siblings Michael and Brian D’Addario have carved out a niche all their own.
Raised by a pair of musically-inclined parents, the brothers were reared on classic, melodic rock and Broadway musical scores. While their contemporaries were discovering The Wiggles, this pair of prodigies was learning the intricacies of Revolver and Pet Sounds and absorbing them all.
Just barely into their 20s, the pair have developed a penchant for weaving gorgeous arrangements, learning and becoming proficient at a multitude of instruments and perfecting an uncanny ability to write some of the catchiest and most offbeat hooks in pop music history.
The amount of standouts on this new offering is staggering; lead single “The One” is a pure pop confection that includes a chorus that will no doubt ring in the heads of unassuming listeners for days. “No One Holds You (Closer Than the One You Haven’t Met)” is, stylistically light years ahead of the craft level these brothers from Long Island, New York should possess. Nonetheless, the pop prowess and sheer audacity they wield is as fascinating as it is unpredictable.
This, the Twigs’ third full-length album, is by far the best of the band’s small but overwhelmingly impressive catalog thanks to the group’s boundless desire to break down musical stereotypes and expectations and is as highly captivating a release as what this year of bleakness has offered yet.
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