By Chinny Egbuna
Centering around what is arguably one of the most out-there album concepts ever, Go to School blends folk, glam-rock, and theatrical flair to tell a wild and winding musical tale.
The musical album centers around Shane, a chimpanzee adopted by an infertile human couple, and his struggle to assimilate into a world of judgmental humans. The album focuses on showy and melodramatic numbers, while simultaneously infusing the brand of folk-rock the Twigs are known for.
The Lemon Twigs, comprised of brother duo Michael and Brian D’Addario, formed the band while they were students at Hicksville High School in Long Island, New York. They released multiple EPs and demo tracks before releasing their first real full-length album Do Hollywood in 2016.
Their weird blend of rock, old-school influences, and Broadway theatricality have garnered the praise of artists such as Boy George, Gerard Way and Elton John. They were also announced as a supporting act on Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino tour.
This album is, at its heart, a very fantastical take on the realistic struggles of modern life. Things like giving up or losing out on your dreams (“Rock Dreams”), isolation (“Lonely”), a first love (“Queen of My School”), or the feeling that the little successes that may come your way are not enough (“Small Victories”).
Shane, despite being an ape, embodies the human desire to live a full life- to be able to run free, find love, fit in, etc. However, Shane meets opposition at every turn. Shane’s surroundings are his biggest obstacle. Despite his best efforts to find acceptance and solidarity with his peers, they mock and brutalize him for being an ape. The rock saga culminates in Shane enacting revenge on his tormentors by burning down his school and returning to the wild.
The album’s sound focuses on showy and melodramatic numbers to really push the fact that it’s a musical, while simultaneously infusing the brand of folk-rock the Twigs are known for. The album features varied and strong guitar work. Think the glamour and charisma of David Bowie mixed with the sprawling string instruments and emotion of Simon and Garfunkel.
I find that this album brings up interesting parallels within our own society. We’ve all had our own individual struggles with fitting in, but Go to School asks the question: is assimilation worth it? The feeling of acceptance from one’s peers may seem inviting at first, but the toll conformity takes on one’s spirit is taxing. It sucks all the individuality out of someone.
So, when acceptance means a loss of uniqueness, and standing out means total ostracization, what is one to do? In a world so cruel and unwilling to accept, how can anyone achieve any kind of happiness?
Standouts on the album include the ballad “Born Wrong/Heart Song,” a strong ballad where Shane comes to terms with the truth of his adoption, and accepts the fact that he will never be accepted, and “Rock Dreams,” a fun rock number about how Shane’s mom, Carole, had to give up on her dreams of rock-and-roll stardom to start a family and raise Shane.
The Lemon Twigs have managed to create a completely unique yet painfully relatable narrative. As crazy as a rock opera built upon the complete rejection of normalcy sounds, anyone can see themselves in the shy and eager-to-please character of Shane. Go to School is at its core, a sincere sucker-punch to the heart.
Featured image via The Lemon Twigs.