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Album Review: Dope Lemon – Kimosabè

3 min read

What do you do when life gives you lemons? For Australian singer-songwriter Angus Stone, the answer is to take on a new identity and make music that is anything but sour. Best known as one half of sibling duo Angus & Julia Stone, Stone has strayed away from the indie-pop sound and adopted the solo moniker Dope Lemon, releasing eclectic, genre-defying tracks since his 2016 debut album Honey Bones. Putting his own wavy spin on the California slacker rock sound, Stone has released Kimosabè – a beautifully malleable 10-track record that is bluesy at some points, psychedelic at others, sporadically folky, yet all-around authentic.

Title track Kimosabè is a cool and collected nod to the comedy film Step Brothers. Featuring actors Will Ferrell and director Judd Apatow as co-writers, Kimosabè is built on a slick twang that brings Stone’s 2022 Rose Pink Cadillac to mind. Combining swanky guitar licks, Stone’s laid-back narration and intermittent whispers of lines straight from Step Brothers, the track is a light start to the record, appreciating serious grooves with a touch of goofiness. Derby Raceway plays like a trip down a well-trodden memory lane through its reflection of Sunday afternoon whiskey confessions. With sun-kissed strums, balmy key notes and resounding electric melodies, the track is a memorable drive down country lanes.

Of the album’s most engrossing tracks, Golden God takes the prize. Stone is no stranger to spoken word verses, but the track possessed several moments of clarity through the artist’s stream of consciousness. Among some of the most profound was the chorus; “If she wants to go get lost in someone else’s eyes/Just let it be son/Just let it be,” “…One day you’ll understand/It’s best to let the horses run free.” There is something remarkably sensitive about Stone’s acceptance of letting go, alongside an embrace of the unexpected, and ultimately meaninglessness. At the heart of it all, there still stands a spectacular golden god. Introduced by the faint crash of waves, following track Miami Baby spices things up with a country jangle that emulates the warmth of the Florida sun. Its serpentine rhythms are carefree and summery, bound to get your hips moving as though you really are partying in Miami.

Incorporating notes of dream-rock sounds at points throughout the album, Blue Moon Fox comes with a willowy psychedelic chamber-pop feel, and Stone speaks in a haze that can only be broken by warped guitar solo. “I see you in the light sometimes,” he sings, immersing listeners in a dream of his own construction. Broke Down Casino featuring fellow singer-songwriter Sloan Peterson took on a jumpier sound, with instrumentation and lyrical delivery that feels inspired by The Strokes. Peterson’s high vocals compliment Stone’s mellow tones, a thoroughly easy listen. Spine-tingling closer Lemon Tree calls upon heavy psych-rock textures for a. fuzzy, kaleidoscopic feeling. Bringing to mind the shoegaze-psychedelic style of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, the song is a sleazy end to a record that feels like a collection of visions. With Dope Lemon, there is no clear distinction between what is real and what is illusory.

Kimosabè is Stone’s truest work as Dope Lemon, one that shows listeners who the man behind the cartoon lemonheads really is. No corner of alternative rock is left untouched throughout the record, a musical anodyne that doubles as a playground for altered states of consciousness. Pairing fantastical wordsmithing and mind-bending soundscapes, listeners are sure to find themselves obsessed with lemons… namely those of the dope variety.