The Lemonheads: Varshons

The Lemonheads: Varshons

 

Give Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando credit for tackling an eclectic set of songs and styles for the band’s covers album Varshons. Dando takes on the likes of Gram Parsons, Wire, G.G. Allin, and Townes Van Zandt, with the help of producer Gibby Haynes, guest vocalists Kate Moss and Liv Tyler, and his own so-deadpan-it’s-almost-inert sense of humor. The album clocks in at just over 30 minutes, and when The Lemonheads find a song that’s in their scruffy roots-rock sweet-spot—like their cover of Sam Gopal’s freakbeat chestnut “Yesterlove,” or Leonard Cohen’s ethereal “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”—Varshons achieves a kind of heartfelt charm that’s enhanced by the brevity. But missteps like the clunky, synth-fueled version of Arling & Cameron’s dancefloor anthem “Dirty Robot” or the drone-y rendition of the Christina Aguilera cheese-platter “Beautiful” make Varshons feel like an inside joke, more slight than vital. It’s great to see the notoriously troubled Dando lighten up and give fans a taste of what he enjoys, but it’ll be better when he can convert that personal passion into something original and enduring.

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