The Academic - Acting My Age Review

Label: Universal Music

Release Date: 10th July 2020

Rating: 8/10

"From chart-toppers to ballads, The Academic prove that they have a huge range with this EP."

Having been together since secondary school, the group have perfected their sound and are now reaping the benefits.

Following their chart-topping 2018 album Tales from the Backseat and ahead of a hotly anticipated 2021 album comes a new EP from The Academic, Acting my Age. The quartet have received praise from all corners and were handpicked by the Rolling Stones to open their Dublin show. With this latest six-track release, they have once again delivered on the faith shown in them.

‘Acting my Age’ is the title song and continues themes of growing up and maturing which run throughout the band’s repertoire. It has all the makings of a chart-topping song, featuring a phenomenally catchy guitar riff which has come to characterise the band’s releases. Fittingly, it is also a more mature and technically improved song than anything that they have released before, reflecting the central theme of growing up which thrusts through the EP. 

Another track drawing on the characteristically catchy choruses, and the best track on the EP is ‘Sunroof’. Whilst it may not be the most complex lyrically (rhyming New York with Block first on the first lyric of the song comes across as jarring), it more than makes up for that with a chorus and second verse that would have stadiums bouncing and should be a staple on every “indie-pop” playlist going.       

‘Unspoken’ and ‘Them’ are both slower, more heartfelt offerings that touch on personal emotions of fitting into society and discussions of love. ‘Unspoken’ is particularly poignant in this regard, as the chorus of ‘this love isn’t broken/ it’s just unspoken’ suggests. The lyrics do away with any idealistic view of love, offering a more realistic interpretation in which problems do arise. Fundamentally however, it asks that even ‘if there’s a setback’, love still remains. From chart-toppers to ballads, The Academic prove that they have a huge range with this EP.

On a different note, ‘Them’ does away with the electric guitar entirely and is a fantastic conclusion to an EP that shows the versatility of the Irish group. Gone are the musical backing tracks that tend to dominate their popular songs, allowing lead singer Craig Fitzgerald to stretch his vocal cords and show a different side of The Academic.       

It was always going to be difficult to follow up on the success of ‘Bear Claws’ and ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’, but by drawing once again on stories of personal growth, ‘Acting my Age’ and ‘Sunroof’ may well be on course to surpass their 2018 successes. Bassist Stephen Murtagh reveals the previous album was centred around ‘transitioning from a teenager into adulthood’ and the Acting my Age EP follows much in the same vein, touching on themes of heartbreak, redemption, maturity and the desire to cling on to some semblance of youth, as the track ‘Happy Hour’ demonstrates.  

It is perhaps growing with this band that gives the songs such poignance personally, but they accurately describe elements of life that everyone has or will go through, and that is likely why they will prove to be so popular to so many. 2021 can’t come soon enough. 

Acting my Age will be available on all major music streaming platforms from Friday 10th July 2020. 

Words by Ben Browning. 

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