Ray Davies had indulged himself one time too often with Soap Opera, and his bandmates, namely brother Dave and founding member Mick Avory, revolted, insisting that their sixth RCA album sound more like a Kinks album (certainly, that's something RCA wanted too). So, Davies designed their next album as a return to a simpler, band-oriented sound. Of course, he didn't jettison his love for conceptual works, so Schoolboys in Disgrace was born. Working under the presumption that a return to simple rock demanded a simple theme, Davies constructed the album as a nostalgic trip through childhood, reviving '50s rock & roll (including the occasional doo wop harmony) for the album's foundation, then turning the amps up high. There's no actual story per se -- it's a series of vignettes, like a coming-of-age film. As such, it's intermittently successful, on both the hard rock ("Jack the Idiot Dunce") and ballads ("The First Time We Fall in Love"), but it's way too campy for anyone outside of the dedicated. And that campiness is all the stranger when married to thundering arena rock; at least with Preservation, the vaudeville made sense in context, but here, the Kinks are pulling in two separate ways, and Schoolboys winds up as one of their least satisfying albums as a result.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine