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The Academy Is - Santi Album Cover

The Academy Is - Santi

Reviewed by
8.4
The Academy Is… - Santi
Release Date: April 3rd, 2007
Record Label: Atlantic/Fueled By Ramen

I believe I first heard The Academy Is… driving, in a car, my tongue flapping to hooks that immediately took a clamping to my taste buds. I thought Almost Here was a firm and melodically endearing pop rock effort. I refuse to be snobby enough to discredit those mid-day rides to “Black Mamba” or “Classifieds” because those in the Academy blew up ripe and ready on significant mediums. I also refuse to believe that Santi will fall flat just because it’s TAI and that’s what’s supposed to happen to poppier, dance-oriented bands. This time ‘round the dance floor, I don’t want to be an elitist.

Buzzing like its anticipation, Santi takes a vibrant and not-so-wobbly step from the studio to the Soundscan with “Same Blood.” Beckett begins with his sass and sex and sharp timbre without delay like a rush of confidence. This is an important impact as a first impression, and a special, sparking choice to reel in the masses. With “LAX to O’Hare,” it’s the same bit. Chiming guitars aren’t lost in the scuttle even with the instant swirl of booming melodies. Most importantly, the hooks are already golden. If there is one thing TAI is better at than you, it’s delivering sweet sweet and silvery angles and choruses. Almost Here laid this groundwork and listeners took notice; TAI is simply taking advantage of what they know they do best.

Track three, “We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands,” is a more unique choice for a single; Beckett’s vibrating Ah’s initially jab at the ears and take time to settle. It takes the stirring rhythm work and slides of the glammy guitar to keep mobilized, but the song still meddles, lost in its own direction. Towards the end, “Big Mess” slows down and swells up like a pregnant romantic. When it shoots back to its fuller speed, Beckett and the complimenting harmonies pulsate and fulfill. Although “Big Mess” is one of my least favorites in comparison to later tracks, it rescues itself with the leeway into “Sleeping With Giants.” Alternating from a new wave-y, echoing and tickling percussion to a power ballad with big thoughts, the riffs on “Giant” are big and epic (Attn: Steve Henderson). These are the kind of riffs that get my fingers wiggling along the leathery plastic of my steering wheel. If I had balls, TAI would have grabbed them right there.

For all that is (mostly) glitch-free up to this point, TAI pumps the break with “Everything We Had.” It’s everything the token “slow” track is expected to be, and because of this, I find the atmospheric, arena rock arrangement concurrently bland and overdone. I see the music video now: Beckett pumps his fist towards the heavens in vain and desperation, sheets of rain masking any hope. Once “Bulls In Brooklyn,” the beatnik rock and roll conglomerate with interesting instrumental choices, checks into play, “Everything We Had” feels even more whiney and generic. “Neighbors,” a tribute to the old crabs downstairs that raid my parties and send me noise complaints, washes away that slight stutter in my engine. This is one is the night starter. Back tracks boost up the vigor with party catcalls and lines like Everybody’s losing control!!, complimented nicely with shots of Jager or Miller Light - your pick. Leading bass lines and more tempo changes shake it up; Beckett’s excitable croons remind me why he is a sex kitten, even if he is a bit girly.

Another one up for the favorites, “Seed” is moderate in tempo with a gentle, burping bass and a breathy chorus. “Chop Chop” is played swift like a rodeo bull-ride and features a handclap just about worthy of The Format catalog, later morphing into one of the most catchy features of the album. The last two tracks on the album, “You Might Have Noticed” and “Unexpected Places” are disconnected to all that proceeded. Hidden behind a mostly fine endeavor, these last two tracks fall short and dull with a couple funky guitars and basic formulas.

Butch Walker and what some call his magic fingers is Santi’s puppet master. Here they rule knobs and switches like an instinctual Napoleon, and it’s clear that TAI are not the same band they were some couple years ago. It’s clear that Walker’s rebellious and good-natured glam pop has soaked through that more basic, cutesy pop-rock batch from before. I’m not saying Santi is entirely a byproduct of Walker’s thinking and theories, but it’s clear we know who the father is. Take that as you may. Nevertheless, every riff, roll or rumble is well defined and rich. Walker and TAI present an astute, varied and full-size rock sound that doesn’t lose those exclusive details to the echo chamber. This is, in turn, less personal and gritty than Almost Here, but both releases carry their own distinct weight and specialty.

Lines of brawny bass come into their own on many of the songs, like the beginning of “LAX to O’Hare.” The result is filling like beef stew, and the more I investigate each glaring twinkle of the strings or voice inflection, I am more and more involved in the tune. On Almost Here, Beckett was not as flexible in his own notes. Now, B-man is careful not to stay in one place and careful not to get too cocky in his own ability. Lyrically, neither releases made their way into my away messages, but Santi is less accessible and short on the genuine. Beckett’s ideas are scatterbrained, and they feel second in line to the melody. This may be a consequence of those expensive microphones, but I’m making due without and just swimmingly.

Last on the list is lasting power, and this one is a steel-enforced trap. It’s really a matter of Libertarianism. If you think the public would chock over their monies to charitable causes without a taxual/legal obligation, you’re an idealist (read more). If you think Santi’s hooks and melodies will last until the end of the year, you’re a Libertarian. I am fully engrossed in “Chop Chop,” “Seed,” “Same Blood” and “Sleeping With Giants,” but I just don’t know if, come fall, Noodle, my 4GB iPod Nano, will still make room for Santi. I would love to be wrong, but for now, I’m no Libertarian.
This review is a user submitted review from Julia Conny. You can see all of Julia Conny's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 117
06:34 PM on 04/04/07
#2
bummerama
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Good Review!! I was thinking the same thing about how Walker, the producer, obviously took the lead on this record rather than the band. I still prefer "Almost Here" to "Santi"... I just feel that when the songs were barely touched by their previous producer, it stripped down their songs and they felt catchier and more energetic. This album lacks lustre at times.

P.S. this review was extremely well written and incredibly thorough. One of the best I've read on this site. No offense to the other reviewers haha.
06:39 PM on 04/04/07
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Blake Solomon
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hahahha. impressive, impressive review. I'm sad you don't like "Everything We Had", that was the first track that I really knew I loved. However, your description of the music video is exactly what I had in mind (add in some dancing clown bears, but there's no way you could have known all my music videos have dancing clown bears). And while the album might not last too long, at the time I write this, it's still more than tolerable to my ears. And I try not to dwell on the future.

great, awesome, hilarious job.


well, that came out longer than I expected.
07:00 PM on 04/04/07
#4
Scott Irvine
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I love this review.
07:03 PM on 04/04/07
#5
evilandgood
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awesome review, Julia!
very well written and insightful. i agreed with everything you said :D
after almost nine listens, i can honestly say the Almost Here is the superior record to come out of TAI.
the music is better on Santi, but the overall effect(especially in the lyrics department) of Almost Here is leaps and bounds greater.
07:26 PM on 04/04/07
#6
Tom Good
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Great review Julia. You have pretty much the same opinion I do on this record. I wanted to like it a lot more though. Your description of the music is spot on.
07:50 PM on 04/04/07
#7
Chris Fallon
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Butch Walker is a God to me, and I like his work here. Personally, it's not the album that Almost Here is, and was, to me when I first heard it, but I do think it's a bigger sounding disc, and comes across as something better sonically.

And yet again, you have written a wonderful, articulate and easy-to-read review that isn't full of pretentiousness or mindnumbing humorless quips (like some bigtime 'zines like to do). Whenever I read something you've written, Julia, it makes me want to start writing something to outdo you immediately, hahaha. I do need to write some more reviews and start posting to my heart's content, and as long as the AP crew is here, writing great, inspired and intelligent critiques, such as this one, I will always want to aspire to be a better writer than I feel I already am. Good work.
08:15 PM on 04/04/07
#8
spencinator
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I really dislike the production work on this cd.
I think alot of the hooks and choruses get lost in the drenching of reverb and the instruments do as well. the clarity and power of the bass on almost here is lost.
even williams voice, which sounds amazing on several cuts like the verse of lax to ohare gets completely killed by the reverb sound.
i usually like butch walker, but honestly, i think he killed this one.
there was only one song which i thought the overproduction really worked on. it was a powerballad, i cant remember what it was called.
the rest, i realyl just thought was a ton of good hooks lost in a mess of overproduction.

am i alone on this?
08:21 PM on 04/04/07
#9
Julia Conny
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Good Review!! I was thinking the same thing about how Walker, the producer, obviously took the lead on this record rather than the band. I still prefer "Almost Here" to "Santi"... I just feel that when the songs were barely touched by their previous producer, it stripped down their songs and they felt catchier and more energetic. This album lacks lustre at times.

P.S. this review was extremely well written and incredibly thorough. One of the best I've read on this site. No offense to the other reviewers haha.

I'm happy I'm not the only one that noticed Walker's influence on the album. I don't listen to him religiously, but I have heard some of his work, and I don't think the claims I made were a stretch at all. Thanks for reassuring that for me. And thank you so much for your kind words. They brighten my day.




hahahha. impressive, impressive review. I'm sad you don't like "Everything We Had", that was the first track that I really knew I loved. However, your description of the music video is exactly what I had in mind (add in some dancing clown bears, but there's no way you could have known all my music videos have dancing clown bears). And while the album might not last too long, at the time I write this, it's still more than tolerable to my ears. And I try not to dwell on the future.

great, awesome, hilarious job.


well, that came out longer than I expected.

Dancing clown bears? Hahahaha. I love it. I wish my music videos had dancing clown bears; my life would be so much more amusing.
08:26 PM on 04/04/07
PassedOut
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I love reading your reviews and picking out the references to our lives.
It makes me feel special.

I cant believe that I was unaware that you named your Ipod Noodle.

You never fail to write a good review and I love you for it. (I figured I should say something legit about the review and not just make random side comments)
08:30 PM on 04/04/07
Julia Conny
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I love you.

awesome review, Julia!
very well written and insightful. i agreed with everything you said :D
after almost nine listens, i can honestly say the Almost Here is the superior record to come out of TAI.
the music is better on Santi, but the overall effect(especially in the lyrics department) of Almost Here is leaps and bounds greater.

Killer, thank you. I was humming "Seed" over dinner at Applebees earlier tonight.

Great review Julia. You have pretty much the same opinion I do on this record. I wanted to like it a lot more though. Your description of the music is spot on.

Thanks Tom.
08:37 PM on 04/04/07
westsidas2000
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Awesome review. I was upset with your review at first because I got Everything We Had mixed up with Sleeping With Giants. I completely agree with what you thought of each song. Good job.
08:38 PM on 04/04/07
Julia Conny
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Butch Walker is a God to me, and I like his work here. Personally, it's not the album that Almost Here is, and was, to me when I first heard it, but I do think it's a bigger sounding disc, and comes across as something better sonically.

And yet again, you have written a wonderful, articulate and easy-to-read review that isn't full of pretentiousness or mindnumbing humorless quips (like some bigtime 'zines like to do). Whenever I read something you've written, Julia, it makes me want to start writing something to outdo you immediately, hahaha. I do need to write some more reviews and start posting to my heart's content, and as long as the AP crew is here, writing great, inspired and intelligent critiques, such as this one, I will always want to aspire to be a better writer than I feel I already am. Good work.

It's a challenge!

You seriously make me blush every time.

I really dislike the production work on this cd.
I think alot of the hooks and choruses get lost in the drenching of reverb and the instruments do as well. the clarity and power of the bass on almost here is lost.
even williams voice, which sounds amazing on several cuts like the verse of lax to ohare gets completely killed by the reverb sound.
i usually like butch walker, but honestly, i think he killed this one.
there was only one song which i thought the overproduction really worked on. it was a powerballad, i cant remember what it was called.
the rest, i realyl just thought was a ton of good hooks lost in a mess of overproduction.

am i alone on this?

What are some examples of overproduction? I'm curious, I want to get everyone's opinion. To me, overproduction is something that takes away from what is important, and that's the melody. Most of the tracks on the album get me tapping my toes and humming along. They were busy and filled with elements, but I wouldn't call that overproduction in this case.
08:39 PM on 04/04/07
Julia Conny
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Awesome review. I was upset with your review at first because I got Everything We Had mixed up with Sleeping With Giants. I completely agree with what you thought of each song. Good job.

Yeah, "Sleeping With Giants" is definitely one of my favorites. Whew.
08:42 PM on 04/04/07
Julia Conny
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I love reading your reviews and picking out the references to our lives.
It makes me feel special.

I cant believe that I was unaware that you named your Ipod Noodle.

You never fail to write a good review and I love you for it. (I figured I should say something legit about the review and not just make random side comments)

But I love your side comments!

Noodle is pretty shy. I should have formally introduced you two.

For all of those that read this, the Libertarian comment comes from a friend of ours. A couple days ago, he tried to convince us that this would be the best governmental system. I'd say we won the debate.

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