The Lemon Twigs

Go to School

4AD

Aug 15, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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They say that each generation's cycle is shorter than the last. It was once thought unbearably precocious that a 24-year-old Pete Townshend would compose and release a rock opera, but here we are at the release of the second Lemon Twigs album and the brothers D'Addario are still only 19 and 21.

Anyone familiar with their 2016 debut Do Hollywood will not be surprised to hear that their next release is a full-blown rock musical. A little like The Who's Tommy, there is a high concept, heavy-handed metaphor at the heart of Go to School: our protagonist Shane is a young chimpanzee being brought up as a human. We follow him through his home life (with his parents voiced by Todd Rundgren and the brothers' own mother Susan Hall), and into his even more troubled school life. The broad strokes of the tale revolve around themes of identity, bullying, intolerance, love, and the destructive power of its absence.

A 15-track, hour-long opus that is never dialled down any lower than mildly hysterical, it will trigger a fight or flight reflex in every listener. Much like musicals on stage or on screen, the heightened reality this band provokes is a balkingly strong flavour, their '70s prog/power pop obsessions having led to concentrations of melody and bold, primary color instrumentation that haven't been heard in decades. Whether you were turned on or off by Do Hollywood single "I Wanna Prove to You," expect more of the same, but doubly so.

The album is brimming with timely subject matter, with "Born Wrong/Heart Song" offering heartbreaking emotional payoffs to callous alienating actions from earlier in the story, whilst "The Fire" tackles the school violence epidemic through a challenging and surprising prism (Michael D'Addario was born in the same year as the Columbine massacre, for reference). It all climaxes with an Important Moral Ending: "Your life's only as good as love is, if you give enough of it," something of a throwback to the ending of Abbey Road. In the end, the love you take from Go to School will be equal to the tolerance you have for an even more undiluted version of The Lemon Twigs. Your call. (www.thelemontwigs.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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