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The Academy Is... are a Rock band from Chicago signed to the Fueled By Ramen record label. Originally named 'The Academy', the band changed their name for legal reasons in 2004 to avoid issues with other bands already using the name. Their début album 'Almost Here' was released in 2005 and is predominantly I would say a Pop Punk album. The album consists of ten tracks, each of which I consider to be exceptionally strong and highly infectious. When the album was released, The Academy Is.. were my most played artist each week for several months, and I still continue to listen to this album from the band whenever possible. I find this album strangely fascinating and could happily sit there with the album on repeat and listen to it all day, when listening to the 'Almost Here' album I just seem to go into my own little bubble where its just me and the music.
Clocking in at just over half an hour in length, the 'Almost Here' album is not exactly what I would consider to be lengthy, however what it lacks in minutes it more than makes up for in merit. Each track individually is a masterpiece, and none of them fail to have me singing along. Front man William Beckett has a brilliant voice; softly spoken yet poignant and powerful. The lyrics are spoken with real feeling and when listening to the music you get a real sense that the band are completely genuine. They love the music that they are making and this is something that comes across strongly in their sound.
With 'Almost Here', every track is a highlight and all ten of those present are well worth your while listening to. Not a single one disappoints, and if you enjoy a good bit of Pop Punk then you should absolutely love this album. Tracks such as 'Slow Down', 'Attention', 'Checkmarks', and 'Black Mamba' are essential listening and really are crying out to be heard by all. Their passion for the music comes across not only in the voice but in the lyrics also, a declaratory statement in 'Black Mamba' for example of 'Oh, Mr. Magazine - I never wrote one single thing for you' summing up nicely just how little their music is made for media consumption, Beckett also stating that if you don't like his voice then you can 'Take a long walk off of the shortest pier you can find'. Love them or lump them, The Academy Is... are going to keep recording the music they love to make no matter what people in certain media quarters may think and regardless of how much certain members of the general public may hate their sound.
The vocals of William Beckett are what make this band so great to listen to. I love his vocal tone and find his harmonies to be utterly encapsulating. I'm not ignoring the instrumental impact of the band as this is immense, however the vocals provide perfection. The instrumental side of the music is often a magical backdrop for the vocal performance of William Beckett and the majority of the time it is his vocal performance that takes the lead whilst the instrumental element takes a back seat. When listening to The Academy Is... I often neglect to listen to their instrumental performance, however when I close my ears to the vocals and just listen to them, still I gain great aural satisfaction.
I feel the 'Almost Here' album from the band is probably one of the best I have heard in recent years. Certainly no other album has grabbed me quite like this one lately anyway; it can take a lot to please me musically, however The Academy Is... just seem to press all the right buttons here and have recorded one of my favourite albums of all time. Their music possesses great energy and a strong zest for life, something which also comes across with their live shows when the band are visibly putting their all into their performance and as a result putting on the show of a lifetime. The music of The Academy Is... is well worth listening to, and for that reason I strongly suggest you check them out if you get the opportunity to. I'd find it hard to understand how anyone could possibly dislike this music, 'Almost Here' is an album which borders upon perfection.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Slow Down
4 Phrase That Pays
5 Black Mamba
6 Skeptics And True Believers
9 Down And Out
10 Almost Here