Review by Ned Raggett [-]
First appearing in 1996 and then reissued four years later with extra tracks, the debut All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors release found the quintet in slightly more direct form than would be apparent on later releases, like Turning Into Small. The basic approach of the band is still the same, though -- shoegaze, and lots of it. The queasy/sweet vocals, the cascading chug of guitars and drums, the neo-psychedelic head-nodding pace, and the overall atmosphere -- it's all there in spades. The group isn't My Bloody Valentine, but then few could be, and if the inspirations are all perfectly clear, the end results are still perfectly enjoyable, though those not automatically enthralled by this strain of music won't find anything to change their mind.
anything to change their mind. When at its best, the album pumps up everything to very much resemble any feedback-overdriven release on Creation circa 1990 -- check out "Saturn Jig," with the keyboard drones and burbles adding to the huge bursts of effect pedal goodness and sighing, buried vocals. Other obvious nods include the Boo Radleys' blend of wistful sweetness on the acoustic guitar bliss of "Salad Forest," the circular conclusion of "String of Stars," tremolos used and abused to full effect, and the epic slow grind and sigh of "Blue Balloons." There are instances of them trying something else and showing a definite sense of humor, though -- thus the semi-classic rock/funk stomp of "Jayne Baby," which starts with a Beatles quote and might or might not be about Jayne Mansfield. At other points, where they are clearly fooling around with using the stereo as an instrument, check the odd levels and simultaneously upfront and distance mix on the fantastic "How Come." Meanwhile, the in-between song snippets of random noise and studio chatter show evidence of actual arrangement instead of just being there for the heck of it.