Hate Your Friends
to be released May 15 on Taang Records
THERE IS GOOD REASON TO BE PROUD if you're a Lemonhead these days. With their debut LP Hate Your Friends, four young Boston lads who call themselves the Lemonheads emerge as one of the Hub's premier bands, able to sound both familiar and fresh.
Most of the songs on Hate mix pop and punk, sometimes inclining towards the sweet strains of the former, sometimes bashing around in the latter. And despite some obvious influences, everything from X to the Pagans to Raw Power, Lemonheads manage to breathe new life and youthful enthusiasm into some very recognizable forms.
The tracks here are those on which pop and punk co-exist as equal partners. "I Don't Wanna" has the most easily discernable melody of any of the songs, carried by lead singer Evan Dando and a nifty bass line. The guitars on "I Don't Wanna" are used more for texture than anything else, and the whole conglomeration reminds you of Moving Targets' approach.
In a different, but successful vein is the title track. Here, the jerky, sporadic guitar chords suggest the premium-fueled rockabilly licks of former X guitarist Billy Zoom, while Dando chants out some direct but not inane lyrics: "We got problems we can't solve. It's enough to make you want to hate your friends." It's not the most charitable sentiment but it is honest.
If there is a serious problem with Lemonheads, it is that their approach is too straightforward and panders to too many established punk cliches. Their cover of "Amazing Grace" is yet another example of a disaffected group of young people defecating on a classic. Like Sid Vicious' rendition of "My Way," this tune is good for only a few minor chuckles before it gets shelved. Similarly, the straight thrash of "Rat Velvet" and "Sneakyville" is loud but ultimately generic.
However, these flaws are few and must be expected of a young band. What Lemonheads have to offer is the power of youth, impressionable but active. Lemonheads are both "Fed Up" and "Fucked Up" and want to tell you the whole story of their lives in a not too polite tone of voice. When you have enthusiasm like this, it makes you want to like Hate Your Friends.