Brian and Michael D’Addario – the two brothers comprising the core lineup of Long Island band The Lemon Twigs – subscribe to their own culture. Sure, it’s a culture envisioned by Foxygen, the modern music hall hippie, but Foxygen have yet to dial up their Pete Townshend on a chimp-oriented rock opera (Go to School) or glam out with Sparks-y weird wonder (Songs for the General Public). Give them time.
Their twiggy essence is operatic psychedelia, a silly throwback attracting a reputation of the most theatrical band yet to sponge off of Queen. Using this pledge to tween from one stylistic assist to another, the D’Addarios have their own tree of quintessence, which sprouts a few extra branches on Everything Harmony, an album that lives up to its title.
Everything Harmony is one for those attracted to vocal harmonies and beautified warbling. It’s one for Beach Boys fans; Any Time of Day and New to Me each provide gigantically-orchestrated vocal textures, the latter of which is near-barbershop in its high-to-low range. It’s one for Simon & Garfunkel fans; When Winter Comes Around includes an Art Garfunkel voice that persuades the changing of the seasons, with Paul Simon somewhere in the backdrop.
Many of these multi-tracked voices arrive atop folky arrangements, oftentimes stark and rural. But as Everything Harmony unravels, it becomes clear that it is actually diversity dressed as folk, a deceptive idiom with wolves and sheep, as What You Were Doing emerges over era-hopping garage rock, a mid-career Beatles single fit with a John Lennon impression and backing aahs, a rummage through ‘80s and ‘90s memorabilia that includes The Pretenders, The Cranberries, and some Britpop. Ghost Run Free jumps from The Byrds to ‘80s alternative rock, with jangle, with feel-good shared melodies that sound like classical harpsichord leitmotifs, an uplifting requiem for David Crosby.
Guitars are exchanged for a piano – and some horns – on I Don’t Belong to Me, which engages not in overt harmony, but either one voice multi-tracked, or one voice with heaps of body. Its pacing is baroque, amped up on What Happens to aHeart with authentic baroque instrumentation; violin, cello, harpsichord, it’s all there, and it all backs a voluptuous chorus, sung with seething heart.
But folk – alongside sunshine pop – carries the heavy luggage of the brothers’ vocals with impressive ease, granting natural cushioning for the sweetest falsetto on Corner of My Eye, finger-picked with the same puppy dog eyes that the lyrics of Every Day is the Worst Day of My Life insinuate. That unassuming bareness, pounced upon by vocals that come in twos, threes and fours, is the quintessence and appeal of The Lemon Twigs’ fourth album, on which everything is harmony.