Wun­derkind indie sib­lings’ Rund­gren-guest­ing, simian-themed ‘mu­si­cal’.

Prog - - The Musical Box - JS

There are con­cept al­bums and there are rock op­eras, and it’s not al­ways clear which are which. But this star­tlingly camp, faintly crazy sec­ond al­bum from Long Is­land broth­ers Brian and Michael D’Ad­dario clearly fits the lat­ter cat­e­gory, even though they pre­fer to call it a mu­si­cal. The pair, aged 21 and 19 re­spec­tively, may be steeped in Big Star-style gui­tar glam and West Coast har­mony rock, but they also have wild am­bi­tions way be­yond their sta­tion. So why not present us with an or­ches­tra-en­hanced, al­bum-long tale of a mar­ried cou­ple of bit­ter, failed ac­tors/mu­si­cians who adopt a chim­panzee son? The broth­ers have the help of one of their he­roes, Todd Rund­gren, on the har­mony-soaked cho­rus of Rock Dreams, and it suc­ceeds largely through sheer chutz­pah, as does the de­fi­ant show tune Born Wrong/Heart Song. Else­where, The Les­son starts off like a Mc­Cart­ney piano bal­lad out­take from The White Al­bum, but it ends up a like­able, string-sloshed romp. Lord knows what the­atre im­pre­sario in their right mind would dare try to sell tick­ets to this, but in a world of safe-play­ing ca­reer rock­ers, this kind of ar­rant in­san­ity is more than wel­come.

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