CD Review of Santi by The Academy Is...

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starstarstarhalf starno star Label: Atlantic / WEA
Released: 2007
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God, don’t you just want to hate The Academy Is…?

I mean, seriously, it’s so tempting to call them out as being a bunch of poseurs who’re just riding on the coattails of the success of their buddies in Fall Out Boy, and to declare outright that they don’t deserve a lick of their success, the lazy bastards. (And, I swear to you, the temptation was there even before they scored the cover of Alternative Press.) The annoying thing about it, though, is that The Academy Is… are actually pretty good – and despite what one might reasonably suspect after tallying the average age and gender of the attendees of this summer’s Honda Civic Tour, you don’t even have to be a teenage girl to appreciate ‘em.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be a teenage girl, especially not when the band’s got Butch Walker handling production for its sophomore effort, Santi. After all, look at Walker’s track record: he’s used his magic touch on material by Puffy AmiYumi, Avril Lavigne, Lindsay Lohan, the Donnas, and Pink, so he’s all about the girl power…but then, he goes on to provide the ladies with a healthy dose of (ostensibly) bad-ass rockers, thanks to his work with Bowling for Soup, Lit, American Hi-Fi, Sevendust, and the All-American Rejects. This guy has a hell of a way with helping bands score commercial success, and it must be said that if you can actually find new music on your radio dial, Walker’s work on Santi makes for the kind of material you’d actually want to hear over and over again: it’s smooth and glossy, but it doesn’t compromise the awesome pop-rock of songs like “Same Blood” or “You Might Have Noticed.”

Don’t worry, you can still tease the band for writing a sweeping ballad like “Everything We Had,” which feels as though it only exists for the purpose of making the little girls swoon. You can even smirk at the way lead singer William Beckett spits out the opening lines of “LAX to O’Hare,” with the lines, “And what happened next was a series of unfortunate events,” sounding like he’s physically forcing them to fit in the verse, although the song redeems itself quickly with its awesome chorus. But with songs like the dramatic first single, “We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands,” the swaggering verse and brilliant harmonies in the chorus of “Bulls in Brooklyn,” and just plain ol’ pop-punk nuggets like “Chop Chop,” it’s plain that The Academy Is… have the ability to sidestep the suggestions that they’re nothing more than Pete Wentz’s fortunate friends.

Okay, so now that we’ve spent the review praising Santi, let’s at least close with one legitimate complaint that we know we’re not alone on: The Academy Is… have one of the worst band names ever.

There. I knew there was at least one good reason to hate them.

~Will Harris