Lemonade Lemonade Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Fat blobs of colour splatting against your temple and leaking into your eardrums.

Kev Kharas 2009

There’s little as simple as making lemonade. Water, sugar, lemons, done – it’s a recipe so basic that suburban America has trusted the beverage to introduce its children to cutthroat commerce for decades.

But Lemonade – both the band and this, their debut album – pitch themselves about as far from the drinks stall simplicity of five-cent glug cups as you can imagine. The sound that Callan Clendenin, Alex Pasternak and Ben Steidel make together is infinitely more complex, genres and dance styles hurled around like the food Robin Williams sees when he’s dressed up as Peter Pan: big, fat blobs of colour going splat against your temple and leaking down into your eardrums. Opener Big Weekend sets out in fits of Rapture-ish, disco-punk cowbell and huge rave synths before repelling an invasion of funky house snare thwacks and carnival bass weight. It’s a sound that’s immediately bewildering, a synesthetic attack on the senses.

And it never relents. Unreal deserves credit for having the audacity to conjure images of Thom Yorke hotboxing the cockpit of a formula one car and then ragging it around Burial’s abandoned London, while Nasifon sounds like Battles playing at Omar Souleyman’s wedding reception. As you can imagine it’s a frequently absurd record, and it really never stops, to the extent that those splattered eardrums of yours probably will – Lemonade is often such an overwhelming mess of sound that it’s hard to figure out where you come in, any attempts to connect with the album beaten away by Clendenin’s berserker wailing and yob bass.

Clendenin’s job here seems to be akin to a guard dog’s, his voice presiding rabidly over the noises Lemonade have looted from the world. When those noises rally to sound like Sunchips they hardly need the extra protection, its predatory low-end groaning up out of a clattering, eerie thugstep murk, but Clendenin’s there anyway, howling out back-off warnings. He’d do well to chill more often.

Lemonade’s better that way, as closer Bliss Out makes ecstatically clear, Clendenin’s voice rising up, seeking out harmony in an incredible sunshine clamour.

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