XL / Beggars Banquet
By: Eric Greenwood
With a loungey mix not quite as buoyant or upbeat as Fantastic Plastic Machine but equally as kitschy, Lemon Jelly compiles its first three limited edition, vinyl-only EP's on this disc, warning, conscientiously, that if you already own the aforementioned EP's "there is no reason you should buy this product." An argument could be made; however, that it might be worth buying (again) simply for the amazing artwork and packaging, which rival the music contained within for top honors.
For the uninitiated Lemon Jelly is easy on the ears. There is nothing too complex or elitist about its lavish, sample-driven, downtempo hybrid of 1950's easy listening and 1990's hip-hop beats. Lemon Jelly will easily appeal to fans of everything from Esquivel to Fat Boy Slim. Without venturing into any unknown terrain, the duo casts a wide net with a synthetic backdrop so laid back and hypnotic it may even put you to sleep, but you're sure to dream of the diffusive textures, ripe beats, and sunken melodies.
"In The Bath" is smooth and groove-oriented. Faux-string keyboards warm up to a jaunty bass line and intermittent scratching. The sample of the British woman asking, "what do you do in the bath?" establishes the jovial atmosphere. As you might expect from a band called Lemon Jelly, nothing is ever very serious. "Nervous Tension" is anything but. Aside from the predictable urban beats, Fred Deakin and Nick Franglin weave a languid piano melody, silly spoken word loops, and bouncy bass grooves through the crisp acoustics.
"His Majesty King Raam" breezes by like a familiar soundtrack theme, despite running over seven minutes. One could easily confuse it for schmaltzy, easy listening with its Fender Rhodes noodlings and hushed synths. I guess the samples and scratching would eventually give it away, though. "The Staunton Lick" raises the tempo a bit awash in jangly acoustic guitars, brisk beats, and gentle bass grooves. Lemon Jelly's inner Pizzicato 5 rears its head on "Homage To Patagonia", although, I dare say, Lemon Jelly shows far more restraint than its hyper Japanese counterparts with concentrated samples and well-crafted tunes.
The slick, funky "Kneel Before Your God" combines Lemon Jelly's penchant for lounge-style cliches with playful, futuristic melodies. The mock-soul of "Page One" cheeses out with tinkling piano bits and layers of synths, eventually bursting into a disco dance number. Lemon Jelly's unpretentious, self-deprecating sense of humor permeates every song. Lemonjelly.ky is so smooth and serene it would be easy to miss- all rounded edges and shuffling syncopation, but, for your dollar, this collection of EP's is well worth seeking out, if not for the gorgeous artwork alone.