I've always remembered my feel-good hits of the year. In 2002, there was Tell All Your Friends
. In 2003, there was Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation
. In 2004, there was ...Is A Real Boy
. Now, it's 2005 and The Academy Is... have released this beast of a debut.
While their first EP (Titled The Academy EP
back when they were just The Academy) was very reminisent of standard pop-punk anthems with catchy riffs which stick in your head and lyrics that flow with the music, this 10-track record slightly steps back from that genre. Here is a mix of clean-cut songs, all backed by funky basslines and standard beats. Of course, it's Will Beckett's (lead singer / ex-Remember Maine) vocals which make this band stand out. His ability to hit the highest notes while passionately singing about the media in terms that don't make him a "fu
ck the government" style (See: NOFX, Anti-Flag) make this CD a delight to listen to.
"Attention, attention, may I have all your eyes and ears to the front of the room". What a sheerly brilliant way to begin the album. It takes just a few seconds for Will's incredibly attractive voice to catch you in the speakers and grab you for a half hour. The music may not be too original, but it fits so well with the vocals. A calm and clean build-up to a breakdown on guitar that just makes you swing your head from side to side.
It's not until "Slow Down" where The Academy Is... really stand out from the other bands in the pop-punk scene. They can fuse their ability to make poppy hits combining 60's style drumming and basslines which stick in your head with catchy vocals and lyrics which you will sing for days. They just combine with the music oh-so well. "You won the role, you've played your part, you've been cordially invited. But I'm not impressed, and I'm definately not excited". It's sung so creatively.
Track 5, "Black Mamba", is Will's attempts to get back at critics, who quickly wrote them off as another cash-in band who made money purely from being in the scene. He sings "Oh Mr. Magazne, I never wrote one single thing for you, oOr your so-called music scene, yYou don't mean a thing to me". It fits so well with the music again, and you can really feel the angst from the band in this song. The acoustic guitars which lead to full distorted electric, it's beautifully crafted. This song is brutally honest and one hell of an example of how a band can create an album for themselves, for their fans, and not particularly give a sh
it if the scene accept it or not.
"Skeptics and True Believers" holds some of the most original lyrics to impress your partner. "Would you believe me if I said I didnt need you, cos I wouldnt believe you if you said that to me". The build-up in the bridge just adds to the emotion of how well this is sung. It's frantically fast, and the words become a tongue-twister as you try to master singing it along with Will.
Following onto the theme of clean and perfected songs sung so well, with amazingly addictive basslines over the top, "Checkmarks" is one of the catchiest songs on the album. The pace speeds up gradually, and the harsh lyrics "So suck your so called pity down, hey, that's not so bad, is it?" just add to the feeling of jealousy and hate. You really feel Will's passion in the final chorus, he's singing his heart onto this record for all to hear.
The album ends on the melodic "Down And Out" and the fast-paced finale that is "Almost Here". Both deserve credit for topping off this album, for finishing it with a slower song with a down-beat pace and a clean picking guitar that sticks in your head, and the last song which builds up the distortion again and forces you one last taste of Thw Academy Is.... "Almost Here" may be one of the best songs on the album, finishing with a fast-paced outro of Will singing "Our time is almost, our time is almost here".
It's certain that this is one of the best albums of the year. They are the new leaders of the nonconformist conformists, planting their attitude and beliefs into each catchy number on this CD. Though it's length is slightly disappointing (10 songs, all of which quickly pass by), it has a long-lasting value. This is the kind of CD you will look back on in years and remember what 2005 used to be like. This is straight up pop-punk anthems, and considering they don't use the average pop-punk forumla, you have to give credit to The Academy Is...