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The Academy Is... - Santi

The Academy Is, Santi

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

CHICAGO quintet The Academy Is… return with their sophomore album Santi, an altogether bigger and better effort than their disappointing debut Almost There.

Where the debut concentrated on pop punk-rock tendencies and shared many of the same traits as countless bands in that genre, Santi cranks things up considerably to deliver several tracks of raw power that display much more ambition.

It’s produced by Butch Walker (of All-American Rejects and Hot Hot Heat fame) and is packed with stadium-sized melodies and unstoppable hooks. But in spite of its advances, you still believe there’s plenty of room for improvement.

At its best, Santi delivers some terrific head-rush moments such as lead single We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands, a wail-heavy wall of sound that delivers some magnificent highs. It trades some strong verses with some monster hooks and an “aagh, aaagh, aaaagh”-heavy chorus that’s tailor-made to please the live fanbase. We defy you not to chant along with it.

Bulls In Brooklyn is another highlight – featuring a different vocal style from William Beckett that’s actually attention-grabbing, some nice vocal layering and more impressive guitars. It’s another track that’s sure to become a crowd favourite.

Everything We Had, in contrast, demonstrates a welcome softer side to the band, slow-building its way to some powerful choruses and boasting a keen sense of melody. Beckett’s vocals, meanwhile, demonstrate a vaster range and there’s a sense of longing that’s born out of the emotional lyrics about loss.

Elsewhere, Neighbours is a breezy blast of pop rock infused with those punkish tendencies that helped give the band their name and Seed adopts a U2 approach to its bassline guitar work, hinting at The Edge’s early work on New Year’s Day. It’s another strong offering that explodes to life during another rousing chorus.

And You Might Have Noticed is a suitably loud crowd-pleaser that contains a grittier edge than some of the more standard efforts, again stretching Beckett’s vocals to pleasing effect. The guitars contain a sharper quality that showcases the maturer feel of proceedings.

Santi is therefore a confident sophomore effort that shows The Academy Is… are shaping up nicely. They’re more straightforward than Fueled by Ramen label-mates Panic! At The Disco but in some cases that’s not a bad thing. This is an album that should definitely broaden their fanbase and continue to build on their burgeoning popularity.

Download picks: We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands, Everything We Had, Bulls in Brooklyn, You Might Have Noticed, Unexpected Places

Track listing:

  1. Same Blood
  2. LAX To O’Hare
  3. We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands
  4. Sleeping With Giants (Lifetime)
  5. Everything We Had
  6. Bulls In Brooklyn
  7. Neighbours
  8. Seed
  9. Chop Chop
  10. You Might Have Noticed
  11. Unexpected Places