The Academic have quickly secured themselves as a favourite to many, and in just under a year have attracted an even strong following of many dedicated fans alongside making serious moves in the music industry. Consisting of brothers Matt and Stephen Murtagh (lead and bass guitars), Dean Gavin (percussions) and led by the intriguing vocals of Craig Fitzgerald. Hailing from Mullingar, a small town in Ireland, the quartet has had a lot of experience supporting The Strokes and The Pixies alongside playing with Catfish and the Bottlemen, so it’s fitting their debut EP released late last year would reflect these bands and other inspirations in The Academic’s feel-good indie rock/pop they have become synonymous with.
From the outset it becomes clear that there are heavy inspirations from the likes of The Kooks, Kings of Leon and The Strokes – so it’s fairly obvious The Academic have no intention of reinventing the genre. However, the music easily stands its own: creating easy listening music full of rhythmic hook filled guitar and accompanied by the melodic vocals courtesy of Craig Fitzgerald. Loose Friends collaborates all their inspirations, shakes it around, and produces an experience that stays fresh and fun till the end of the 5 track EP.
Essentially it is stadium ready music, the guitar riffs beg to be played at a louder volume and the choruses are designed to be sung along to with a bunch of like-minded fans. Opening with ‘Different’ the bands lead single up to this point and what first attracted some original fans. The pounding drums introduce the band, backed up by the energetic guitars alongside the seemingly adolescent pent up frustration of love.
Following ‘Different’, ‘Northern Boy’ changes the pace with a slow rock track tinged with a ballad-esque performance, also emulated within ‘Thought I Told You’. It’s not hard to imagine this particular track going down a storm live, essentially it’s a powerful track fueled with raw passion and emotion any indie track needs to be successful. Backed up with a solid musical performance, ‘Thought I Told You’ is definitely one of the highlights of the whole EP.
‘Sometimes’ is undeniably inspired by The Kooks (particularly their earlier work) and that is definitely not a problem. Again, an annoyingly catchy chorus bubbling with energy is at the heart of this track and, like the whole EP, it isn’t hard to visualise ‘Sometimes’ being a huge hit live.
The penultimate track in the Loose Friends EP is ‘Chasers’. Taking a slightly different approach – the usual lively and enthusiastic music are accompanied by the potentially dark undertones of the lyrics, regardless it conveys the same passion in both the bands desire to produce good music and personal endeavours. Loose Friends concludes with the aforementioned ‘Thought I Told You’.
Ultimately, the EP provides the perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with the work of The Academic. A throwback to what many consider the better era for indie music and what has been lacking in the modern indie music scene. 2016 is going to bring good things for The Academic, already announcing their first gig in Ireland and hopefully it won’t be long until they branch their live scene further around the world.
For all interviews and features with The Academic, click here.
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Review by Harry Curtis | @Harry_Curtis_