Review: The Lemon Twigs – Go To School

Posted October 2, 2018 in
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The Lemon Twigs
Go To School
4AD
Street: 08.24
The Lemon Twigs = Meatloaf + The Who + Curious George

Some 19–21 year olds are staying in their parents basements, getting stoned, reading comic books and playing video games. Not the D’Addario brothers—they are creating, writing, performing and recording a rock ’n roll opus involving a monkey named Shane. Forty-nine years ago, Pete Townshend introduced us to a deaf, dumb, blind-kid named Tommy. Townshend gave us an iconic album about alienation, redemption and transformation. All these years later, the D’Addario brothers have given us a similar story.

The main cast of characters include: Carol (Mother), Bill (Father) and Shane the monkey. Brian and Michael D’Addario are the geniuses behind Go To School – A Musical by The Lemon Twigs. This is a family affair. It is not only created and recorded in their parents’ basement—the D’Addario brothers also have enlisted their father to help in production of the record and their mother to play and sing. In a brilliant move, the brothers have recruited Todd Rundgren to play the father, in which he sings on two tracks. Go To School is about a family that could not have a kid of their own, who take in a chimp in a cage and raise it as a boy. Shane goes to school and takes on the world—a world not ready for him. Like most stories, Go To School unfolds in three acts. You can’t just spot-check songs on this record; you have to experience it as a whole. Musically, the D’Addario brothers throw everything at you: classic rock, country, ’70s-pop fluff and that over-the-top bombast that define the musical genre.

Shane’s Go To School experience is encapsulated best in three songs: “Bully”, “Queen Of My School” and “The Fire.” Despite its title, “Bully” is a song that sounds like a gentle summer breeze with horns. The touch of menace on the track shows up in the lyric: “Shane, I wanted to smash your head against the wall”. In the song “Queen Of My School” Shane falls in love: “I’ve got huge love, afternoon love / With the Queen of school (not a little schoolboy crush) / Main attraction in the classroom / Students want her, teachers, too / But she sat next to me.” Sadly, it all turns into a joke—Shane is the mouse to the queen of the school’s cat. This leads to the climax of the story and the best song on the record, “The Fire.” The track is a country-twang, guitar-driven song that unleashes out a Carrie/Columbine type school massacre. “And I saw Shane, and everyone was pushing him / And you could really feel his pain / And then, before you knew it / All of a sudden there were these flames / A fire started in the school / That took a hundred lives away.”

Go To School is fun, tragic and sad all at the same time. With the theme of a fear illusion that threads through the entire record, Go To School by The Lemon Twigs is epic in reach and simple in message. The record ends with what sounds like a Beatles refrain: “You really think they can hold you? / Oh, please don’t let them destroy you / Your life is only good as love / If you give enough.” –Russ Holsten