WL//WH Album Review: DON’T GET LEMON descend into a “Hyper Hollow Heaven” of inverted smiles

WL//WH Review  DON’T GET LEMON  

To borrow a line from Adam Curtis’ 2016 BBC docu-film – HyperNormalisation -, regarding Patti Smith and how she experienced New York City in the ‘70s, the eight-song – Hyper Hollow Heaven – is ‘best experienced with a slight cool detachment.’

Don’t Get Lemon is a 3-piece band of British music and football devotees based out of Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Texas, made up of Austin Curtis (vocals), Bryan Walters (bass, percussion) and Nick Ross (synth, guitar, drum programming), who have evolved and refined a distinctive electronic pop sound self-dubbed ‘Heatwave’ by blending auras of melancholy and bliss with surreal synthetic textures, peppy rhythms, strong sincere vocalizations, and poignant, personal lyrics to tell a story about the dark, moving state of our planet through a hyperbolic lens of anxiety, fear, and disenchantment in their debut full-length album, “Hyper Hollow Heaven”, due out on March 29, 2022, via independent label à La Carte Records.

Joining the inspirational dots between 80s UK New Wave, Post-Punk and Synthpop crossing through 90s Indie, Britpop and Madchester era, the 8-track LP, teased by a string of three singles, visualized by their accompanying videos and linked by common lyrical themes, comprises a captivating set of sinuous and vibrant, heartfeltly crafted, at times magniloquent and anthemic, other times reflective and atmospheric, hook-laden electropop songs, sprinkled by a compelling and gripping melodic attitude that permeates all through the record.

The opening “The Film Star Car insinuates Tears For Fears hints of cathartic despair, that ignites trotting movements, sparkling icy bright synth obsessions, waxing and waning bass line intensities, and retro electronic expansions to carry breathless nostalgic vocals on a hectic ride through submerged yet intoxicating moods of romance and apocalypse setting a tone of high angst, sadness, and chaos for the rest of the collection.

“Begin Again (Or End?)” emerges from the racing environment with an apparently calm and introspective perspective of whistling sonics, stumbling beats, rambling percussions and deep bass vibrations to distort profound memories under cloudy, churning energies of disjointed desire.

“Industrial (Amusement) Park (Revolution)”

I think it’s one of the most representative songs of the album for us, both musically and lyrically. It has the “heatwave” sound that we are trying to trademark, incorporating warmth and a tropical beat. It was also selected because it’s an earworm. It has two anthemic choruses basically. Lyrically the song is about the inevitable end due to climate change, it’s both surreal and comical at times, but also romantically strives to find beauty and peace in the end.

Ecstatic synthetic joys smothered by the heavyweight of bass line doom battle it out amid racing drumbeats, disoriented jabs, and glimmering ecstasies to encase the forgotten misery of vocal broods in impotent passions and ghostly echoes of spectacular fear and windswept pain.

Flashing nods to the airiest Underworld permeate Weren’t you meant to? that stirs groovy faltering hypnotic beats, metallic fogs, prowling bass tones, and twinkling keys into subconscious shadows of urgent restless attitudes, whilst cold, buzzing distortions, and soft angry confessions build disillusioned hues.

“D.I.E.I.N.T.H.E.U.S.A.”

This song is the most unique song on the album; it’s our first ballad. We think this song is probably the most accessible we’ve written. We didn’t want to lead off with this single because it is a different sound, but it’s also the song I’m most proud of and the most personal. It’s about not wanting to die in America and my desire to always get away from it but feeling trapped in it, but if I knew I were to die tomorrow or that I had a limited amount of time left, I would free myself of any perceived responsibilities and shackles and get on a plane and leave.

Led by industrialized tinny hypnotic rhythms, “D.I.E.I.N.T.H.E.U.S.A.” is a gloomy ballad of crushed, ceremonial keyboard glows swept in blowing harsh harmonics and dreamy somber baritone broods wandering lost through the shattered dreams and broken promises of a world/society no longer recognizable under the slow merciless revelations of veiled deception.

“Black Tarmac” and “Working Man’s Ballet”, the latter a The Pulp-tinged ode to the ’70s Chelsea FC mercurial and maverick football legend Alan Hudson, dance weightless into the grand conclusion with shadowy whispers, slivers of fading hope, twinkling twisted constellations, and swaying, dashing powers to carry helpless, emotional sentiments through the shifting tides of revised destiny.

“Purple Hour Kingdom” (featuring guest vocals by Renay of Monochrome Lover)

‘Purple Hour Kingdom’ is also about the end of the world and our last hours in it. It also speaks of the freedom we have knowing the end is in sight and how it can also be beautiful as a sunset. Power is also a big part of the lyrics in the album and in particular this song. The masses long for leadership and those in perceived positions of power to lead us, to bring calm and normality, but we know that they are also just blindly fumbling through life because they also don’t actually have control over what happens, and they know that we know that. Neoliberals like to toss around words like civility, order, and growth, and create a false sense of safety and security in fake pleasantries. In reality, they are also hollow shells clinging to the power they believe they have, which is to uphold the actual powerful system of capitalism that they’re there to protect at all costs, even if it ends everything. It was selected because it’s a bop and probably the strongest song on the album. It’s also the album closer and we wanted to make sure it got it’s time in the spotlight.

In the dramatic finale of  “Purple Hour Kingdom”, staggering New Order vibes drive an extraordinary impending doom of shiny, vivid and mesmeric expansions, that twirl and stretch into a nebulous smog of stinging, toxic rains to sway ardently over struggling misshapen vocals, releasing censored speech and revisionist echoes into restrained fluttering swirls, penetrating stabs, and numb electronic swarms of reflected euphoria to cast a smiling facade over mankind’s numb, limboid utopia of inverted fate.

A beautifully tragic poetic synthesis from the uncertain dystopic moments in which we find ourselves surrounds and encapsulates life’s essence with a surreal impetus of detached fantasy and brutal realism, fueling extreme tendencies and regulated, restrained emotions into submerged explosions to form a chaotic cataclysm of soul-searching, world-ending nihilistic bliss and doom.

Don’t Get Lemon‘s “Heatwave” resonates as an expression of authenticity and passion, emotional-ridden vocalizations tremble and vibrate in the thick haze, heightened by intricate rhythmic patterns and throbbing low ends, while sparkling synths swirl in seemingly distant and inaccessible echoes, evoking disturbing looming ghosts, whilst brimming with poignant pop momentum.

Don’t Get Lemon LP is issued through independent label à La CarteRecords, on Vinyl, Cassette, and VHS Tape, the latter mirroring Adam Curtis’ use of archival footage to help visualize the narrative. Hyper Hollow Heaven” is a statement to have and to hold, to hear and to view.

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