A confident debut from a likeable Irish Indie entrant.
The Academic deliver their debut LP, building on strong influences, such as Sundara Karma, The Night Café and the late Viola Beach,
Emerging out of Ireland in 2013, it wasn’t until the release of Bear Claws in 2017 that the band sparked the interest of the media. The four-piece consisting of Craig Fitzgerald, Dean Gavin and brothers Matt and Stephen Murtagh, followed this with the single Permanent Vacation and their debut LP Tales from the Backseat, both of which have boasted many plaudits, with the latter peaking at number one.
The use of a strong drum beat paired with a catchy guitar riff in opener Permanent Vacation sets the listener up for the 31 minutes that follow. Bear Claws follows with the same energetic sound and vocalisation, and a seemingly strong likeness to The Strokes, but a guitar riff in the bridge dials up the rock credentials. The Academic has an ability to deliver a range of sound, as demonstrated in both Girlfriends and Northern Boy, with both tunes a more emotional and slower than the rest.
Lyrically, the band's themes centre around typical teenage problems, which reiterates the changing and emotional style of the album. Time will tell if they mature as the band matures and retain the audience they've built up - but for now, at least, they work.
The stand out track of the album comes with Why Can’t We Be Friends? The stepwise singing within the chorus and its overall catchiness of the melody result in an infectious earworm. Other notable tracks include Television and I Feel It Too, continuing the upbeat energy of the openers, with repeated lines and chant-like singing making them an easy listen. However, they could easily be overlooked amidst the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen, as some of their music does seemingly fade into the background from time to time, and track differentiation can occasionally be an issue.
Tales from the Backseat introduces a fresh-faced indie entrant with stacks of energy and potential. Their future success relies, in part, on their moving away from somewhat naive lyrical themes and building on this good starting point to flex their songwriting ability.