What a strange name for a band...'The Academy Is...' is, it's just screaming out to have that sentence finished with some witty/cheeky/naughty little line. But what, in truth, IS the 'Academy? Or, possibly more grammatically correct - who ARE the Academy...? Well, they are that huge band on the internet...you know, the new almost sub genre of modern music, "myrock". Having cultivated a substantial following thanks to the space that is mine, the Chicago based 5 piece deliver their debut 'Almost Here' on the Fuelled By Ramen label - yup kids, that's right, the label owned by Fall Out Boy's very own Pete Wentz.
The Academy Is...are indeed rather chummy with the Fall Out Boy's, recently touring with them and the likes of Motion City Soundtrack, Something Corporate and Armour For Sleep. These bands are clear contemporaries of the Academy, with their debut offering more than a nod to each of the bands in the circle of pop punk. Opening the album with happy, punchy 'Attention', the lads certainly do grab ours...with a fast paced and melodious little number, not too dis-similar from some of the less screamy Taking Back Sunday offerings. 'Season' is equally as inoffensive, yet never really seems to quite take flight, despite the continual attempts throughout the song. Recent single 'Slow Down' plays as a cautionary tale of excess and attachment in the day and age of such disposability. The amusingly arrogant bridge "I'm not saying that I'm not breaking any hearts tonight, girl" is set against a gorgeously constructed arrangement, that is to stay in our heads for at least 5 minutes. Some real poetry breaks out in the urgent, moody and driven 'The Phrase That Pays'. No, it's not a tribute to the mighty game show Catchphrase, but a provocative song about being diagnosed with a terminal illness...the hook "hold your head high heavy heart" is the only sentimentality expressed in what could, potentially, be a real syrup clichÃ©.
'Skeptics And True Believers' is another break up song, but with a certain humour and edge that steers away from the mundane. Title track 'Almost Here' allows for some toe tapping, guitar thrashing, as-hardcore-as-it-gets moshing. Which, incidently, really isn't very much, despite all efforts. 'Black Mamba' attacks the music press, almost as if they could foresee the criticism...with singer Beckett whining defiantly "this is the voice I was given and if you don't like it, take a long walk off the shortest pier". It's pretty easy to see why he may be a little defensive about his voice, you know, the one that he was given....but overall, the album is an inoffensive, happy, very much danceable little debut, and whilst it may not be anything stunning, it does shine, in its own quiet way. So, answers on a postcard please people, "The Academy Is..."?!
Selling more than the rest of the Top 20 combined...