Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Academy Is… - Santi

Band: The Academy Is…
Album: Santi
Release Date: April 3, 2007
Label: Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic

When I first began Audiosyncratic I wasn’t sure how I was going to work the reviews. It basically came down to me wondering if I would base my reviews strictly on opinion or if I would take each release for what it was and analyze it fairly. I’ve got to say that I feel like thus far I’ve done a pretty commendable job of sticking to the latter. With every CD I’ve reviewed I did my best to compare it to its predecessors and evaluate it for evidence of growth of the band. So, I’d say that I’ve been overall, quite fair to each album that I’ve reviewed, and I hope you agree.

On that note, I’d like to say, in comparing Santi to their previous full length, Almost Here, I just simply cannot find much good to say about it. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I was ever a huge fan of theirs, but Almost Here certainly earned a considerable number of plays, in fact, sadly, because of it The Academy Is… is ranked 19 on my top artists of all time on Last.fm. They have quite a bit going for them. They first got picked up by Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy) in Chicago and were signed to Fueled By Ramen, with the likes of Panic! At the Disco and the aforementioned Fall Out Boy. As it seems, FBR is the perfect breeding grounds for pop-punk bands to launch into stardom. I wholly anticipated that they would steadily gain fame (as they have been touring with Almost Here under their belts). Now, however, I just can’t see it happening, although maybe the changes found here (that I find disappointing) will be just what they needed to make it big, and signing with Atlantic seems like that might be the case.

Upon the releases opening with “Same Blood,” I was initially impressed. It starts with a harder introduction and fades into a calmer body. The song features William Beckett’s vocals as usual, but this time around they seems much more refined, sweeter and softer, and more melodic. The second track “LAX To O’Hare” is when it took its first turn for the worse in my opinion. The music at times seemed busier than their older stuff, which wouldn’t be bad if it didn’t seem too chaotic, and almost messy. The guitar seems recycled for the previous songs and at times the vocal style, simply reeks of Panic!.

“We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands” was the first song to surface, a few months ago, and it’s apparent why. It is immediately more accessible than the previous two tracks. It is more like their older material, in that it is catchy and singable. In this vein also comes “Neighbors,” which might be my favorite track on the album. It is certainly the catchiest on the album and bleeds rock anthem. It’s got personality and fortunately this keeps its repetitive nature from dragging it down.

“Sleeping With Giants (Lifetime)” was the first time I could put my finger on just what it was that I don’t like about Santi. It seems to me that it is over produced; I would assume this is most strictly the fault of producer Butch Walker. Someone should have told him to lay off, but I suppose if you’re trying to formulate the next pop album of the year, you’ve got to listen to him. It comes, then, as no surprise to me that he has produced artists like Pink, Lindsay Lohan, and Avril Lagivne. “Bulls In Brooklyn” also stinks of his talents medaling. It’s got a manufactured sound, and by that I don’t mean synthesized, I mean that it comes from a formula. I’d say that this formula is probably borrowed partially from the likes of Fall Out Boy, which is also not a surprise.

While The Academy Is… haven't lost everything they had going for them, just the essential substance that defined them is almost gone. It’s hard to say if it’s their fault or that of their label, which is clearly in the moneymaking business. It is unfortunate to see a band, which not only had potential to go places, but also a distinctive brand, be snatched up by a major label and forced into a pop would-be sensation cookie cutter. To go off slightly on a tangent, it was Atlantic that signed The Format and attempted to force them into the same situation. Thankfully they gladly left and in turn made a song about it. Just listen to “The Compromise” on their latest, Dog Problems (my favorite album of 2006), and you’ll get a pretty good picture of what seems to have happened to The Academy Is…. Fortunately for them, not all is lost, they’re well on their way to pop-stardom, they’ve just been processed by the machine that is the recording industry.

2 comments:

Austin said...

i have never listened to this band much but i no u have been a fan for a while. i was impressed with the review. im glad someone can tell the difference between genuine creativity and bullshit productionized bigtime pop music.
....nice format reference.

Anna said...

I agree, the new CD is overproduced and their style is all over the place. Why couldn't they just improve their old sound instead?