The Lemon Twigs have taken liberties. Their latest album, Go To School, is a musical about a monkey’s trials and tribulations of fitting into a human school. While there are unmistakable flashes of brilliance, and the premise itself is an admirable undertaking, the album plunges through redundant, narrative-driven background music. For a band that burst on the scene in 2016 with heavy-hooked hits like “These Words” and “As Long As We’re Together,” the sophomore follow-up may require a more open-minded approach for fans to appreciate it properly.
In the musical, Shane, the adopted monkey appears to be a thinly veiled proxy for the awkward range of emotions the brothers went through going to school in Hicksville, New York. Shane’s parents are voiced by, Todd Rundgren and their actual mother, while the brothers alternate on vocals and other instrumentation.
The album begins with “Never In My Arms, Always in My Heart” which has an encouraging Born To Run-era Springsteen vibe. “The Student Becomes The Teacher” showcases a beautiful vocal arrangement that is reminiscent of early Bowie, and “Rock Dreams” has both splashes of The Who’s Tommy, and Elton John.
Despite the 70’s rock-opera allegories, the musical starts to blend together into a slew of vanilla mediocrity. “Queen of My School” is worth a listen and the final song, “If You Give Enough,” is a lovely exit song that could easily be the title track of a Muppets movie. Unfortunately, unlike their previous work, a listener wont be clamoring to listen to featured tracks on repeat.
Where Go To School may seem more base than dynamic, the album has a lot of heart and surely has it’s moments. The irony is that the Lemon Twigs are such a fantastic live act, that they could make a physics lecture seem like a party. Scissor kicks, fantastic covers, and an innate talent for showmanship recently earned the group an opening slot for the Artic Monkeys European tour. While not nearly as palatable as their debut, Go To School proves that the Lemon Twigs will be no lackeys of convention, and instead have a bright, creative future awaiting them.