Portland-based Lemon Pitch combine the efforts of three singer-songwriters (Brock Ginther, Alex Merrill and Galen Richmond) to put together a sonically and lyrically diverse debut indie rock record. The band’s sound is self-described as “lyrically dense noisy pop”; its chaotic, sometimes rowdy nature is channelled, however, through a clean-sounding and oft-charming guitar pop that flits between college rock, grunge-pop, ‘90s indie rock and garage-punk. I hear influences from bands as diverse as The Pixies, Jets to Brazil (Perfecting Loneliness era) and The Hold Steady. While hard to pin down, Lemon Pitch are in the same ball park, broadly speaking, as The Thermals, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and Built to Spill.
The band speak to an indie rock sound that is incessantly creative- and at times, a little too affectively quirky for my tastes- but also melodically-inclined. The opening title track knocks one straight out of the park, as this sharp, smartly-written slice of toe-tapping indie rock, with some wonderful swirling guitar hooks to boot. While focused on the anxieties of the modern world, the song sounds like it belongs on a ‘90s indie movie; its vocal melodies and key shifts are right up my street. Another highlight is “Arrowheads” which has some wonderful subtle hooks and notable bass lines in the verse that slowly culminate in a memorable chorus. The songwriting here is Blake Schwarzenbach meets The Hold Steady with a pinch of late-90s emo. I also really dig the distinct guitar work and sense of imploding doom on “Dental Work”, reminding me somewhat of Clarity by way of The Arrivals.
Alongside these semi-angst-y, indie rock-meets-emo tunes, there are a lot of other things going on over the course of Flat Black Sea: straight-up rock (“Airtight”), melodically-inclined folk-rock influences (“God’s Teeth”, “Loading a Good Cart”) and garage-punk (“Bands that Wears Hats”). The latter is about imagining a future of hat-wearing bands (eh, I’m good), which is notable for its distinct sound on the album, as this short and silly slab of Jay Reatard-esque garage-punk that feels like it has been picked from a Dirtnap Records sampler. It’s certainly a ‘what?’ moment. “More Bad News” also falls pretty short for me, as a cutesy indie song that tries a little too hard for my liking and that contains an annoying baseline. It, for some reason, reminds me of late-era Weezer, which is never a good thing.
There is a lot to digest here, with three different songwriting stylings present on one record, meaning that it unavoidably flits between varied styles and tones. Unevenness is the nature of the beast, I guess. However, there is plenty to like on Flat Black Sea and if I heard the handful of songs I enjoy on the record as a separate EP, I would be over the moon. It is worth a listen for the title track alone.
Check out the album here: https://lemonpitch.bandcamp.com/album/flat-black-sea