Release Date: May 29, 2012
Record label: True Panther Sounds
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic
Birthed in San Francisco but born for New York, Lemonade makes the kind of hybridized dance music beloved by both DayGlo designer drug aficionados and chain-smoking cardigans; by Brooklyn, I mean. And just like its new home, Lemonade’s ability to co-opt everything its members have ever liked is in full effect for Diver, its second full-length, which is a smoothly hewn amalgam of R&B, dream-pop and—forgive them—even dubstep. While brazen, the thing sounds wonderful, copping their forebears with discipline and sincerity.
In 2008, Brooklyn and San Francisco dudes Lemonade released an album called ‘Lemonade’ that was ENORMOUS in every way and focused its attention on club bangers that capitalised on the whole LCD Soundsystem ‘thing’ happening at the time. It was great. ‘Diver’ is much less gigantic, favouring woozy afterparty synths (‘Neptune’) over the banging actually-at-the-party synths of their debut, and a helluva lot of crooning R&B vocals (‘Eye Drops’).
Lemonade's self-titled 2008 album was one big, exhilarating highlight reel condensing the preceding decade of dance/rock crossovers, blurring the divisions separating DFA-style post-punk disco and EDM super-club thumpers. The sheer, relentless force of that release seemingly had a physically and emotionally draining effect on the Brooklyn-via-San Francisco trio; when I caught the band at a March 2009 South by Southwest showcase, they had already forsaken their debut's percussive thrust for the more gentle, deconstructed tropical-pop sound that would surface on 2010's stopgap Pure Moods EP. But on their sophomore full-length, Diver, Lemonade effectively pull an all-out George Costanza: They strive to become the exact opposite of everything they once were.
The delicious combination of post-punk and pseudo-rave on Lemonade’s debut made for some interestingly slanted dance music. “Big Weekend” sounded like Manchester house, “Unreal” sounded like it was performed by a happier Public Image Ltd, and “Nasifon” could have been a cut on a Bollywood soundtrack. By the time of Diver, the True Panther trio had consolidated their scattered influences and jumped onto the chillwave bandwagon.
Lemonade is an interesting act that immediately stands out. It’s a trio of guys who are seemingly as into Paul Van Dyk as they are Hot Chip and have no problems presenting themselves as such. There’s also strange ‘90s boy-band and mainstream pop influences seeping through, seemingly in an effort to become even more accessible. That they don’t commit themselves to the normally soul-crushingly boring EDM genre is to their credit.
Four years ago, Lemonade waved bye bye to the Bay Area, holed up in Brooklyn, NY, and released its self-titled debut album to critical acclaim. The eclectic-if -not-enigmatic trio of vocalist Callan Clendenin, bassist Ben Steidel, and drummer Alex Pasternak baked myriad clubs with their spicy long-form jaunts, flushed with tropical rhythms (“Big Weekend”), spacey aggro-punk (“Real Slime”), and World-influenced trance (“Nasifon”). They wasted little time in a follow up, issuing their Pure Moods EP, another adventurous excursion that found the trio scavenging for foreign beats and erratic rhythms, both to great success.
With ‘Diver’, Lemonade have made their defining statement to the world. Not just because the record sounds, in places, rather triumphant but because a lot of the songs are solid hits in the making. The record veers from rather scatter-brained beat patterns to more laid back sonic-seducers. Its definitive elements being the synth-induced soars, the chopped up human cries and the ice cold croon.Like all good R’n’B, this album is a tad bipolar.
It seems that the farther removed we are from the 1980s, the more palpable its influences become. It’s a notion I’ve been entertaining frequently these past six months, as new releases from Neon Indian, Sleigh Bells, and Frankie Rose have unapologetically tapped into a sonic reservoir teeming with references to the Human League and John Hughes movies. And so it’s no coincidence that Brooklyn by-way-of San Francisco trio Lemonade is touring with Neon Indian this spring.
In just the span of four years, Brooklyn-via-San Francisco trio Lemonade have undergone a remarkable evolution. Their 2008 self-titled debut was a predominantly vigorous one that presented a hodgepodge of influences, ranging from rave and post-punk to house and world music. The transitional Pure Moods EP (which was released on a USB bracelet, of all things) came two years later, which added and removed a few genres, hinting at a more subdued, pop-leaning direction.