The William Academy Five Fight Songs
Grade
B+
 
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The techno rock genre of music benefits from a wide palette of tone and concepts, ranging from futuristic (God Lives Underwater) to dark (Stabbing Westward) to heavy in rock and punk influence (Pitchshifter). Because of this, slapping the label of techno rock onto an act serves no purpose to cleanly define their sound. Such is the case with the New York three-piece, The William Academy. The scope of acts in which I could refer to describe The William Academy is disturbingly long (Depeche Mode, Pop Will Eat Itself, etc.), but even those would not come close to accurately nailing down their sound.

The William Academy is composed of your standard techno rock/pop elements - Ebin Flow and Taryn Looney's synthesizers pump out high-pitched and bright tones throughout the whole album, but sound oddly retro, not unlike something spawned from 80's pop acts, like A Flock of Seagulls. This retro-feel is not a bad thing as it's played against the more modern guitar and drum machines patterns from Kevin Haus that manages to bridge the generational gap. Flow's voice shows a nice range, not sticking completely to one style of vocals throughout. He delivers enough variety to help in defining each of the songs.

The opening track, Erase Me, starts the five-track album off on the right foot. Flow's vocals deliver a raspy emotion, not unlike John Garcia (Kyuss, Soul Burn) that work well with the high-pitched keyboards and raw guitars. The chorus is oddly catchy, so much so that I find myself singing it even when I'm not listening to the album.

Track two, Northern Boys, starts will a pulsing tone and beat that works into the body of the track, evolving into something sublime and even casual in presentation. Here Flow is more passive, more reserved, which fits the moodier track. Let's Pretend (Let's Forget) is a more straightforward effort that is good, but not as engaging as the other tracks. One of the strongest aspects is a powerful, even overwhelming, synthesized tone that blares like a semi down the center of the road. The last two tracks, Regret and What I Want are a highly dance-oriented tracks that ramp up the musical energy and feel wonderfully groovy. The harmony of the vocals on What I Want's chorus help to drawn the right kind of attention to it.

Production values on this recording are sharp and clear, but for this genre of music, it's really a dire necessity. I've heard many an independent album in which the music is severely hampered by poor sound quality. Fortunately, The William Academy benefit from clarity that makes their music sharp and crisp.

If there is anything which might be a drawback in this immediate effort is that the focus of synthesizer tonal range is sharp and on the high-end. In smaller portions, it works well, but those not immediately in love with that range may grow tired after a couple run-throughs of the album. Which would be a shame as this is a really nice effort and a great place for The William Academy to start. On the other hand, fans of that kind of audio seasoning will eat this effort up and beg for more than what's offered.

Five Fight Songs shows a lot of potential. Other acts should be so fortunate to start out with such a firm offering. With a full-length effort, we'll be able to get a fuller scope of what direction The William Academy is taking with their music. Hopefully, with a full blown album, we won't be spending time picking at acts we'd like to compare them to, but instead try to find other acts to compare to them.

For more information, check out williamacademy.com.

- - Kinderfeld

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