The Academy Is is one of those bands that I was surprised never took off like many of their Chicago counterparts and Fueled by Ramen brethren. Don’t get me wrong, they have very loyal fans, but they don’t quite have the success of, say, a band like Fall Out Boy. They write fun, catchy songs about very easy to relate to material. They put on an exciting and easy to sing-along with stage show. Plus, all the members of the band are quite charismatic. They seem to have the formula for success down. So with this knowledge, I know many are looking at the group’s third studio album to really push them over the top.
TAI’s third studio album Fast Times At Barrington High, a fitting title for a band with a scholastic name, might easily do that. It is overflowing with those catchy pop rock songs that will make fans readily sing along. The retro, loose guitar strums work well with the throwback lyrics that seem to perfectly describe the senior year of high school.
Single “About A Girl” starts off this album and at first listen it seems to be another cliché love song. However, a closer listen reveals that this is actually an anti-love song as William Beckett sings, “I’m not in love. / This is not your song.” This trend of anti-love songs comes up a lot throughout the album, but isn’t always apparent when wrapped in the happy major chords and up tempo drum beats. “Rumored Nights,” however, makes no such false appearance and the dark, bittersweet lyrics are mixed with music that changes tempos as fast as the trust changes into betrayal.
Keeping with the vibe of this being an album written for the senior year of high school, “Crowded Room” deals with the bringing down of the one kid that everybody loved to hate. And if “Paper Chase” is the graduation speech, then the big drum rolls of “One More Weekend” are the last huzzah before going away to college, making it the perfect album closer. The only song that seems a little out of place is “Beware! Cougar!” which like its title says, describes a relationship between a young man and an older woman. A funny idea, but not fitting with the rest of the album, unless you consider that at least one of the persons in the relationship is a youth.
My biggest criticism is that this album is one of those “soundtrack of your summer” albums and it is coming out in late August. It would have been a better early May release. Also, while this isn’t the most adventurous material, it is still fun and the band puts interesting twists on the lyrics. Finally, this album is worth a listen just to hear the collaborations with members of Cobra Starship and Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin.
Fast Times At Barrington High will be released by Fueled by Ramen on August 19, 2008.
01. About A Girl
02. Summer Hair = Forever Young
03. His Girl Friday
04. The Test
05. Rumored Nights
06. Automatic Eyes
07. Crowded Room
09. After the Last Midtown Show
10. Beware! Cougar!
11. Paper Chase
12. One More Weekend
Written by: Bethany