Lemon Twigs Go To School Review For Northern Transmissions

4AD

7.5/10

The Lemon Twigs

Go To School

The Lemon Twigs have always been over-the-top to say the least, and across their latest collection this energy takes many different shapes. True fans will undoubtedly be in love with this latest record, as the brothers only ramp up their core personalities. It’s how this outlandish spirit is used however that can leave the album feeling like it’s going in too many directions at once.

The Lemon Twigs’ usual ferocity and classic rock swagger comes out roaring on “Never in My Arms, Always in My Heart” as their penchant for storytelling keeps some of the straightforward moments from feeling too bland. In “The Student Becomes The Teacher” they contrast a warm feeling with dark arrangements and a powerful orchestral delivery to make a subversive gem of modern rock. They lean into this idea of vintage spirit on “Rock Dreams” with equally theatrical and fiery writing but ultimately leave some moments a little to under-mixed to feel distinct and continuously gripping for modern audiences. If you aren’t put off by the overt Queen-like performance, “The Lesson” sends things into an imaginative direction for as The Lemon Twigs let pianos expand their focus.

Invigorating grooves take hold on “Small Victories” and find the brother duo expanding to much more exotic and psychedelic tones than their usual hyper-rock. Some of their poetically-driven lyrics don’t always feel natural but end up doing the job quite nicely on the old school love songs like “Wonderin’ Ways.” Despite a lounge-like drive on “The Bully” they colour their writing with so many fun melodies out of the arrangements and their own voices that it’s surprisingly potent.

While there’s certainly a relatable story behind “Lonely” it’s delivered a little too bluntly to feel artistic rather than ranting. The Who-like vigor takes over drums on “Queen Of My School” as the bass goes wild as well. By really taking some eccentricities to their vocals as well, the Lemon Twigs hit another strong pop note. Their theatrical writing hits a high on “Never Know” as they go all out to mix in every style of riff into their sound while somehow feeling like a tight unit.

The Lemon Twigs niche over-the-top attitudes will prove fairly divisive on “Born Wrong/Heart Song” where they transition right out of emotional into something out of a musical. “The Fire” takes a folk-rock approach and tells a heartbreaking story through all their massive tonal changes. This however centers back to their recurring issue of grandiose recordings and lyrics that are too blunt to feel appropriate. “Home of a Heart (The Woods)” is a much more focused track however, taking all of the Lemon Twigs passionate moments and letting them slowly grip listeners.

Even amongst the familiar grooves and abstract lyrics of “This Is My Tree” there’s a great momentum to core drive of the song that makes it an exciting party that you’ll want to bounce to. As things wrap up on “If You Give Enough” they use fantastical strings to bring a warning to those who try to help. Though a bit whimsical, there’s a spirit to the track that is oddly endearing.

Words by Owen Maxwell