The more things change, the more Evan Dando remains the same. “Is it really true, years passed away?” the alt-pop pinup sings on The Lemonheads, an album so steeped in ’90s nostalgia that it’s easy to believe he truly hasn’t noticed an entire decade has passed since his band’s last, Car Button Cloth. Time flies, it turns out, when he’s having fun: Aside from his 2003 solo debut, aptly titled Baby I’m Bored, Dando has chosen to expend his energy hanging with celebs and blabbing about his infamous drug life to anyone who still cares. So if he’s surprised to find time passing him by, listeners are equally shocked to discover he still fancies himself a musician.
The Lemonheads, however, makes a strong case for his full-time return to music. Recorded with Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson and bassist Karl Alvarez, the band’s eighth album may find Dando penning his same old bubble-grunge song, but it remains a good one. Despite unfortunate lyrical clunkers like “If it ain’t fixed, don’t break it,” it’s hard to resist such amiable pop-rock confections as “Steve’s Boy,” “No Backbone” and “Pittsburgh” — none of which would’ve sounded out of place on Dando’s crowning achievement, 1993’s Come On Feel the Lemonheads. Newcomers probably won’t feel The Lemonheads; its unscrubbed feel is out of sync with today’s glossier music world. But for longtime fans who’ve missed Dando’s infectious, deceptively simple songs, this is a nostalgia trip worth taking.
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THE LEMONHEADS | The Lemonheads | Vagrant