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Fast Times At Barrington High

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Album Review

For half a decade, the Academy Is... watched from the sidelines as Fall Out Boy became the Midwestern kings of emo. Fast Times at Barrington High makes a well-deserved grab for the crown, though, flaunting a combination of rock & roll bombast and pop-schooled songwriting. It's hard to tell how much credit belongs to frontman William Beckett, whose vocals and songwriting skills have nicely progressed since the band's debut, and which accolades go to Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, the production team otherwise known as S*A*M & Sluggo. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the album's first six songs, all written with the duo's help, are also the most radio-ready pop numbers here. "Summer Hair = Forever Young" is a fist-pumping declaration to youth and warm weather, while "His Girl Friday" — the highlight of side A — boasts the sort of muscled, sugary chorus found on albums by Motion City Soundtrack and Jimmy Eat World. The mood changes slightly during the album's latter half, where Beckett takes over the songwriting reigns and steers his band closer to the rock camp. "Beware! Cougar!" is a particular highlight, while "After the Last Midtown Show" pays tribute to Gabe Saporta's former band with piano flourishes and vocal harmonies. Fast Times at Barrington High doesn't go to the hoop with every song, but it scores more than enough points to make it a career highlight, not to mention one of the best emo-pop albums of 2008.

Customer Reviews

Great Album!!

The Academy Is did a great job on this album! Every part of it is great, and enjoyable to listen to. Finally a band that is moving away from the FBR classic pop, bubble-gum pop, glam rock, stuff. Thanks so much to the boys from The Academy Is!! One problem however... Did anyone else have trouble with the Pre-Orders? I did not rate the album based on that. This album deserves five stars. YES or NO? THE ACADEMY IS ROCKS!!!

New sound, but is it good?

I've been listening to this album on The Academy Is...'s Myspace page for the past few days, and I have come to a conclusion. This album is the culmination of the new direction TAI has decided to take, and it is not for everyone. The new sound, coupled with the dramatized high school theme is probably not for the older fans. The album opens up with the single, About a Girl. This is basically what you might expect from the title. It seems relatively like the old styles, but is notably different with a poppier feel and rhythm. Summer Hair is another song, about another girl. The pattern quickly becomes obvious, and the new sound is apparent by now. His Girl Friday (see the pattern?) is about a different guy this time, not from the first-person perspective. The song goes on about the different women, and how the one girl will always be "His girl Friday." The Test and Rumored Nights are, personally, not very remarkable songs in and of themselves, but they tie into the new sound. Rumored Nights sounds relatively like old TAI, but not close enough to matter. Automatic Eyes is one of the stand-out songs on this album I believe. It really shows off the new styles, and, yes, it's about girls, but the emotions in the song are really quite deep and seemingly sincere. The chorus may come a bit quickly, but the song is too catchy not to listen to at least twice in one sitting. Crowded Room, on the other hand, is kind of an annoying song. The old-radio sound that they try to put into the song really seems out of place, and the drop-off words are just empty and bland. Coppertone comes out of nowhere and redeems Crowded Room's painful lyrics, by using more of the heartfelt lyrics. But the poppyness isn't as apparent here. This seems like one of the songs that are closest to TAI's old style. They did something right with this song. After the Last Midtown Show is about a girl (ha). This song really feels like the mid-point of the whole album. It achieves this by slowing down the whole pace with soft guitars and a story about their night together. More heartfelt lyrics are sung, and the vocals aren't half bad either. Beware! Cougar! is an alright song in my opinion. It's another song that seems closer to the old style more than some of the songs, but not entirely. It picks up the pace after Midtown Show nicely. Paper Chase keeps it going with quick bass riffs and quicker guitars. This song sings about the culmination of high school, the graduation day. This song also gets the album ready for the end song, One More Weekend. One More Weekend is about a person getting ready to depart their life, and move into the world. This song actually ends the album on a good note, summarily closing up the theme and leaving the listener feeling relatively pleased. The album as a whole is not worth buying. After listening to it so many times already, I do think there are a few shining gems in the album, but you just have to cherry pick which ones are your favorite. I suppose for the hardcore TAI fan, they will just buy the whole thing, but I reccomend that you go listen to it a few times before making a decision. Key songs: Summer Hair = Forever Young Automatic Eyes Coppertone After the Last Midtown Show

This was meant to be their second CD

Almost Here was one of the best releases if not the best Fueled By Ramen has ever produced (Maybe The Papercut Chronicles) Their sound was refreshing, and their lyrics were witty. On Santi, it seemed like it was rushed, lyrically and musically. It didn't feel like I was listening to the Academy Is... As soon as I put this CD it brought back the awesome feelings that I had when I was listening to Almost Here. I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who liked Almost Here, and misses that Academy Is...


Formed: 2003 in Hoffman Estates, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formerly in rival bands on the Chicago local scene, guitarist Mike Carden and vocalist William Beckett came together in 2003 to mark the beginning of emo-pop outfit the Academy Is... (originally named "the Academy"). Naming influences from U2 to Weezer to Pink Floyd, the duo added bassist Adam Siska (Beckett's classmate from high school), along with a second guitarist and drummer, to record 2004's The Academy EP for hometown label LLR Recordings. As luck would have it, fellow Chicagoan Pete Wentz...
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Fast Times At Barrington High, The Academy Is...
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