The Academy Is


Written by: TL on 21/04/2007 16:46:40

So it seems working a busy full time job can manage to wear you out so bad that you'll postpone writing reviews day after day for a whole week, in effect delaying the posting of this analysis of The Academy Is' sophomore album "Santi". Now however it is weekend, and now well slept, this reviewer is feeling up to the task of describing the much awaited follow up to the 2005 success of "Almost Here".

Fortunately, postponing the writing of this review bought me the time to listen to the album some extra times, which is a very good thing considering how most people could be easily swayed into writing it off as a classic sophomore slump, even though there are actually qualities to be found on it. The album opener "Same Blood" kicks off with some riffage that could have come straight off The Killers' "Sams Town" and generally keeps that style up throughout the song with added choirs clearly displaying that the sound has grown from the somewhat basic but devilishly catchy powerpop the band brought us back on their debut. "LAX To O'Hare" follows up and hints that the attitude that made the old stuff good isn't completely gone, while its guitar riffs paint pictures of the sun setting on dusty... Las Vegas or something. This guitar style is present throughout the entire album, setting a very disco-ish mood reminiscent of bands like We Are Scientist or Head Automatica.

From here on, three songs follow and pretty much ruin the expression I've got so far. "We've Got A Big Mess On Our Hands" sounds too big and too heavy for the bands' usual sleek style and doesn't really work that well, while the anthemic "Sleeping With Giants (Lifetime)" and the ballad "Everything We Had" never even come close to grabbing your attention like the old stuff do. Even while the latter leads your thoughts toward Taking Back Sunday's newer material, it still seems that the songs have suffered from a heavy focus on creating a more characteristic style for the album.

"Bulls In Brooklyn" initiates the somewhat superior second half of the record as well as justifies the comparison to Head Automatica's discomania, but even though there's quality in its grooves, it's nothing compared to the joy of reunion you'll feel when the fast paced "Neighbors" remind you of the Almost Here-times, making it painstakingly clear that the style the band used to utilize back then simply worked better than the one they've been playing with so far on the new album. "Seeds" attempts to use the same style for a classic build-up-to-a-crescendo kind of song, but falls flat on its face as the build up fails to draw attention, effectively leaving the last part of the song as the only really good one. Serving as this albums equivalent to the old "Checkmarks" song, "Chop Chop" raises the tempo back up and brings back some quality tune-crafting to the mix. "You Might Have Noticed" takes the prize as the least interesting song on the record before "Unexpected Plans" ends the rollercoaster-ride with some pretty decent moods and grooves.

Looking back on this album, I can't help thinking what's obvious. Back on "Almost Here" The Academy Is were a band you'd have a hard time saying what was characteristic about, but it didn't matter because they simply had the tunes to carve a high quality album out of sheer charm and catch phrases. Now it seems they've fallen to the all too trendy process of adding unnecessary styles to their music in an attempt to cleverly conceal the much too heavy focus on choruses, that have probably been created to meet the bands' status as an arena size act. Bad moves that might even have worked out if it wasn't for the weird production on Williams' otherwise beautiful singing voice. Overall, there's good stuff to find here if you really listen, but with a band like The Academy Is you just shouldn't have to try so hard.

Download: LAX to O'Hare, Neighbors, Chop Chop
For the fans of: We Are Scientists, Head Automatica, Taking Back Sunday
Listen: MySpace

Release Date 03.04.2007
Fueled By Ramen

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