A Taste Of Orange & Lemons (Album Review)

by Tony Maghirang | Business Mirror | June 16, 2018

COMMON wisdom suggests that a debut album is a glimpse into the artist’s potential for a top-notch greatest hits collection some years down the road. A first release will at least gather a clutch of hit singles on which to build a feasible musical career in the future. Orange & Lemons (O&L), which disbanded in 2007 and reformed in 2017 as a trio of Clem Castro (vocals/guitar), JM del Mundo (bass/backing vocals) and Ace del Mundo (drums/backing vocals), has just reissued a complete re-recording of their 2003 debut Love In The Land Of Rubber Shoes & Dirty Ice Cream.

According to the band, the new album came out as a response to the clamor of their fans. Their press release even argued that, “an older, wiser Orange & Lemons is [now] in control…where Castro’s 2018 voice truly adds a layer of sophistication on the album, made more palpable with the defiant attitude of the del Mundo brothers.” Anybody who has listened to Castro’s solo indie debut of 2015 as Dragonfly Collector (The World Is Your Oyster), will also perceive its seamless production values seeping into Love in The Land…V2.0.

O&L’s 2003 album remains staunchly melodic, singularly focused and constantly engrossing. Arguably a millennial release, its sonics references The Smiths in the ‘80s, although also-rans The Housemartins would be closer brothers-in-sound, while its building blocks acknowledge British songwriting and pop sensibilities starting with The Beatles onward. In the upgraded format, Castro’s lyrics shine brighter and sexier. There’s no mistaking the craving to “make love in a world of vivid colors” in Just Like A Splendid Love Song and an equally heated cry for love in My Butterfly with “Take me with you and share the night with flaming passion/ You give in to my desire..”

Two new compositions, the country-and-western-tinged If I Could Speak My Mind and the darkly sensual Lovers Come, Lovers Go round out a reinvigorated re-release that still demands to be listened to from beginning to end.