Talk about a drastic change and a turn of events. The Academy Is… have gone from a god awful debut EP that sounded like the biggest Taking Back Sunday rip-off to a full-length that not only is unlike like their earlier material, but actually sounds pretty decent. My expectations for this release were cautious, nervous and down right scared of how horrible it might be. After hating their debut EP, I thought this was going to be more of the same until I actually saw these guys open for Motion City Soundtrack and Limbeck. They played a set full of songs from Almost Here that were really captivating and catchy and that’s exactly what you get on their full-length; charisma. Now I know what you are thinking, this has all been played out before, and yes it has. But, on some levels, certain bands avoid getting lost in the shuffle by twisting and turning a few things here and there. This is what exactly The Academy Is… does on this release; offer just enough originality to the mix to separate themselves from the abundance of artists in the indie punk genre that all follow the same mold.
The biggest change for The Academy Is… rests in the area of the vocals and their delivery. Vocalist William Beckett drops the whole Taking Back Sunday thing he did on the EP, for vocals that are more genuine and delivered in a laid back sense. His delivery and approach is much better rounded and almost monotonous at times, but it works since it bleeds into the music so well. I know it takes vocalists some time to find their own niche, but hearing Beckett on this current release as opposed to the EP, he definitely was trying way too hard to be something he wasn’t. It’s not even something you have to listen for; the change is just that severe and obvious. The music follows the standard verse, chorus, verse, chorus format that goes on and on. Everything, especially the choruses, are extremely sing-a-long, yet not to the point where you get sick of it- the reason being that musical structures before the choruses are situated nicely with thick guitar and a heavy rhythm section that creates a big sound.
This album is full of songs that have “single” written all over them. In fact, I don’t think it would be going overboard to say that all ten songs have the ability to be a single or have single potential. The band also does a nice job of situating the songs. The song “Attention” is a perfect song to open the album with and does a perfect job of setting the pace and tone. All in all, this release clearly shows a band that has really decided to develop their own sound rather than try to sound like this band or that band as they previously attempted. While their music still has a long way to go before they really create their own sound, they are doing just enough to get by right now.
(Fueled by Ramen)