The Lemons/Teen Runnings // Split 7-Inch
Recommended Track: I Wonder What Your Mom’s Thinking
Indie pop will always have its critics, those “serious” folk who believe pop music should plumb the depths of human experience and emerge with some profound message that speaks to the culture in a codified and oftentimes opaque way. But those people are dumb, because if that was the case for everyone then the fate of all bands would be to become Radiohead, and who wants to live in a world full of Radioheads?
In any case, though I take the cultural function of pop music seriously, I’d be remiss in my critical duties if I couldn’t recognize and appreciate the simple appeal of hand claps, “bop bop bop” backing choruses and sunny chord progressions that go exactly where you’d expect them to go, no more and no less. That’s exactly what you’ll find on this fun, slight split 7-inch from The Lemons and Teen Runnings.
Chicago’s The Lemons take the A-side with three songs of grade school style musical VHS tapes, the kind where you’d follow the bouncing ball along the bottom of the screen. It’s nothing if not optimistic and basic in the most childlike way, the vinyl equivalent of a Little Golden Book, yet The Lemons are aware of the limitations of their music and keep every song to a minute and a half or less; just long enough to get the point across and short enough not to give the listener ear cavities. There’s not a lot of emotional shading here–things are happy or things are sad–but the The Lemons sell themselves on sheer sincerity and catchy songwriting.
On the flip side, Tokyo’s Teen Runnings go a little bit harder and a lot janglier. Both of their tracks could slot onto a Best of Sarah Records compilation, although they’re missing that distinct late 80s angst (a rather stupid complaint as the kids don’t seem to go in for angst much these days anyway.) “I Wonder What Your Mother’s Thinking” is the stronger offering, skipping along on a merry beat before perfectly resolving itself into a melodic ball of fuzz.
It all becomes pretty same-y once it becomes apparent that the songs here are almost entirely interchangeable. One can easily imagine The Lemons dialing down “Make It Better” to a campfire sing-a-long and Teen Runnings roughing up “Lemoncita”—which actually might be better than the Lemons’ version come to think of it. But I’ll give Teen Runnings the win. A few years and a broken heart or two and these guys might turn into Legs. And we definitely need more Legs in this world.