Review Summary: The potential & talent is there and will be spotted by those who are patient. It’s just a shame that this EP is derivative, doesn’t flow well & is bogged down by predominantly being "all talk and no action".
The arts, and entertainment as a whole, generally share many similar attributes. One (more often than not) negative perception that is more likely to occur in motion pictures, television and plays however is the phenomenon of "all talk and no action". How often do you, or someone viewing with you, exclaim something like "hurry up and get to the action” or “stop talking and have something happen"? This rarely occurs in music, but one such occasion where it might is with the debut EP by The Academy (Is...).
How ironic then that the first of 6 tracks on this EP is wordless? Unfortunately, that is not at all a good thing as almost 3 minutes of listening to what appears to sound like someone getting ready in the morning and then having to run somewhere for an unknown reason, is a time-wasting turn-off. Following it up with a 5 minute talk-fest isn't exactly enticing either. Yet, that is what the uninvolving and overlong ‘The Author' does. Vocally and lyrically reliant, this wordy cut is similar to many album tracks from Taking Back Sunday's and Brand New's debut LP's... So much so that this is stamped with the derivative tag. Furthermore, by kicking things off with the weakest 2 tracks, the flow of this EP is completely ineffective… In fact, it is best listened to in reverse order!
A little better than the first 2 cuts is track 3 Judas Kiss', mainly because it is rockier and more up-tempo. However, while there is a bunch of good ideas included, it is all a bit messy really and does not come together to make a totally cohesive song. There is a hint of a very good hook in the chorus which, like the preceding song, will grow on you if given the chance, but it is once more outdone by simply too much (figuratively speaking) talk in the verses. EP closer, the 6 minute 'Absolution' is similar and while suffering from some of the same problems, does a better job of pulling off what the band were looking to achieve.
And what exactly is lead vocalist William Beckett talking about throughout these songs? Well, to be a little vague, nothing and everything all at once. The lyrics contained throughout this album for the most part are in no ways awful, but nor do they stand out as a major selling point in any form either. On the occasions when the lyrics are impressive, the sheer quantity of them drags their effectiveness down. Lyrics must involve the listener somehow when there is so many of them as there are on this EP, but unfortunately that is not always the fact here.
Thankfully, this EP is made passable on the back of the quality contained within tracks 4 and 5. The former, 'In Our Defense', is especially impressive and reminds me of the more effective cuts off of Brand New's 'Your Favorite Weapon' album. The lyrics are finally a strong point as Beckett spouts out a revenge-themed diatribe as if he was Jesse Lacey's twin. The catchiness and the fact that this song is truly memorable and invites repeated listens more than makes up for the fact that this is still derivative stuff.
Penultimate track 'Dear Interceptor' is then the most multi-dimensional piece of the EP, especially from a musical standpoint. Similarly to 'Judas Kiss', this does try to dip its toes into a few too many genres (hints of indie, emo, pop-punk and alt-rock), but somehow succeeds in doing so. Just as impressively is the fact that Beckett changes up his range to effectively convey different emotions throughout the track. Of course, the problem is that it is still all a bit too wordy for my liking.
Ultimately, The Academy EP displays potential and most tracks are at least growers. Optimistic listeners may be able to block out the bad and concentrate on the good, however it falls into a trap that many debut EP’s do of including too much of everything within a limited number of songs. Add to that the fact that the EP is derivative, doesn’t flow well and is predominantly bogged down by being “all talk and no action”, and it is difficult to rate this too highly.
Recommended Tracks: In Our Defense, Dear Interceptor & Absolution.