It’s hard to believe that this is The Academic’s first album.
Established in 2013, the Mullingar four-piece have been making waves on Ireland’s indie scene for several years (we picked them as one of our Plec Picks as far back as 2014), with turns supporting Pixies and Noel Gallagher. They’ve released a slew of tracks in that time and earned a Choice Music Prize nomination in 2015 for the hit single Different.
Now, the band have finally dropped their debut album, ‘Tales From The Backseat’. From the first few seconds of the opening track Permanent Vacation, it is clear what’s in store, as you’re dragged head-first into The Academic’s driving, pop-punk sound. It’s a whirlwind of upbeat, hook-driven tunes that evoke the youthful energy of early work by The Strokes and The Kooks.
With its punchy beats and catchy refrain, Bear Claws is easily the stand-out track on the record. The song’s pop inflections, lively rhythm and seductive melodic lines are sure to make it a sing-along classic at gigs. It’s followed by a string of similar uptempo indie bangers with punchy choruses, only slowing the pace down marginally towards the end of this neat 32-minute album.
It’s definitely a fun record, sleek and succinct, however, there’s not much in the way of groundbreaking or wholly original material here. In terms of songwriting, the band haven’t progressed far past a few basic adolescent themes, and the album features some awkward lyrics and a couple of throwaway tracks.
However, The Academic have also shown a lot of potential. In October, the band went viral with a mesmerising looped recording of Bear Claws, taking advantage of the time delay on Facebook Live. The audio and visual result showed a spark of genius, and if they can bring more of that creative magic to their work, then these guys could really be on to something.