Published on September 12th, 2018 | by voxx0
The Lemon Twigs – Go To School
The former child actors write a musical about a pyromaniac ape… Wait, come back!
The concept LP appears to be making a comeback in 2018. Following Arctic Monkeys’ recent trip to a fictional colony on the moon, their current touring partners The Lemon Twigs have really gone for it on their second album. Go To School was written as a musical about a failed rock star who adopts a chimpanzee called Shane and sends him to school where – spoiler alert! – spurned by his high school crush, he burns the place to the ground.
The wacko subject matter and Broadway theatricality of the whole thing (the D’Addario brothers have a background in musical theatre, something that is glaringly evident throughout) should be enough to put anyone off, but the sumptuous backdrop the duo have created for the tale is irresistible.
Their 2016 debut showed a fondness for flamboyant ‘70s rock, but once Go To School calms down a little – on older sibling Brian’s songs in particular – it presents a rich wall of sound, all intricately arranged orchestration and sublime, multi-layered harmonies.
The delicate opulence of ‘Wonderin’ Ways’ could easily sit on The Beach Boys’ 1970 classic Sunflower. ‘The Lesson’ is a sepia-tinted, old-times snapshot complete with ragtime brass, its vaudeville skip lands closer to Harry Nilsson than Andrew Lloyd Webber, while Michael D’Addario-fronted rocker ‘Queen Of My School’ refracts the adolescent haze of Big Star (whose drummer Jody Stephens makes several appearances here) so you quickly forget you’re listening to a song about a chimp losing his virginity.
Two goofing-to-camera turns by the pair’s spiritual forefather Todd Rundgren as Shane’s dad push it into the realm of simply irritating, but every time the jazz-hands showiness starts to raise an eyebrow, you’re left swooning to a gorgeous swoop of lush instrumentation. It’s preposterous, nearly an hour long and totally out of step with the times, yet thanks to their guileless sincerity and boundless invention, The Lemon Twigs manage to pull it off. Only a stony heart could fail to enjoy it.
- By Jake White