Release Date: February 10, 2023
Genre: Indie Rock, Alternative Rock
Label: Capitol Records The Irish alternative rock/indie rock outfit The Academic -made up of vocalist and guitarist Craig Fitzgerald, drummer Dean Davin, guitarist Matthew Murtagh, and bassist Stephen Murtagh- have returned with their latest and second full-length studio record, Sitting Pretty, which was released on February 10, through Capitol Records. It follows the success of their self-released debut album, Tales From The Backseat (2018), which debuted at number one in Ireland. As well as their three previously released EPs, Loose Friends (2018), Acting My Age (2020), and Community Spirit (2021).
One of the biggest things the band wanted to do with this recent record was to get into a major studio to record it. However, the pandemic put a damper on that. This resulted in the quartet putting out their two EPs, Acting My Age and Community Spirit, through the pandemic to continue the band's momentum. Both of these EPs were written and recorded from their bedrooms. As soon as it permitted, the band hit the studio to work on Sitting Pretty in 2021 and 2022. "Our first album was pretty much just the four of us in Dean's dad's shed. We really didn't know much about the music industry, we just wanted to play music and write songs like our heroes of that time," vocalist Craig Fitzgerald reminisces. Unlike their previous album, Tales From The Backseat, the band went into the studio without any pre-produced tracks, so they were putting it all together on the spot. "We, unfortunately, can't talk about this album without talking about the pandemic 'cause we were stuck at home for so long. We really couldn't get into a studio, so we made a couple of EPs out of the respect for the album. We respect the album process so much we didn't want to do something from home. So this album was a lot of patience around the songwriting," he continues.
Sitting Pretty is quite the album from The Academic. The record sounds like something from the past but glistens with modernity. These thirteen tracks perfectly blend their influences of the past with their modern influences. Songs like "Pushing Up Daisies," "Don't Take It Personally," "What's Wrong With Me," "Heartbreak's Where It's At," and "Let Go Of My Heart," to name a few, have these poppy elements embedded into their sonic structure. "My Very Best" and "Rain" stand out among the rest, with a very slowed-down, darker feel to them. Additionally, "My Very Best" gives off a very Springsteen '80s rock vibe to it. Whereas songs such as "This Is Your Life" and "Homesick" sound like The Beatles with a stylish, current flair to them. The band has an eccentric and vast array of influences from David Bryne to The Who to Bob Dylan to Spoon to MGMT -and you can hear them all throughout the record's forty-four minutes and fifty-second runtime. Without a doubt, The Academic are methodical when deciding to deliver a jumpy, fast jaunt chock full of hypnotic melodies or a darker track showcasing the dark, melancholy side of the topics they're discussing in their lyrics.
The themes across the album are all over the place. The album was written over the last five years -before the pandemic and throughout it. It tackles the band's life being an absolute rollercoaster - as it has for most people over these last couple of years. The tracks on Sitting Pretty tackle a cornucopia of topics ranging from anxiety to mature decision-making, insecurities, confidence, egos, and so much more. Essentially, The Academic details navigating life in their 20s, the uncertainties of life, and the ever-shifting sense of self. For example, songs like "Pushing Up Daisies" highlight both the immovable weight and frail fractures of the young masculine ego, whereas "Homesick" was written while the band was on tour in America and how hard it was for them to accept the difficulties of maintaining relationships from across the globe. Nonetheless, whatever The Academic tackle in their powerful words, they do it with ease and confident emotion. "It's all about being a little bit older, checking in with yourself. I suppose maybe check in with yourself more if you're feeling bad about your situation and stuff. We're all going through the same things at different times, or maybe at the same time. So check in with yourself. It's important to know yourself," expresses guitarist Matthew Murtagh.
Sitting Pretty is out now and can be streamed on all major streaming platforms. Be sure to The Academic when they embark on their fourteen-date North American tour (tickets here), which will kick off in Toronto, Canada, on April 9, in support of Sitting Pretty. The band is eager to hit the road again, and all have their own track off the new album they can't wait to perform. "There's definitely a couple that will be interesting live. There's a song called 'This Is Your Life,'" shares Matthew. For Dean: "There's a song called 'Right Where You Left Me,' and every time we kinda listen to it, I imagine playing it live 'cause it has that kind of raw energy to it, and it's quite loud, and exciting. So I'm really looking forward to playing that one on the road." For Stephen: "For me, it's a song on the album called "Step My Way" that's kind of unlike anything we put on a record before. It's heavily inspired by 1970s Paul Simon. It's really joyous and kind of something you've never heard from The Academic. So I'm really excited to play it and see what people think of us playing that type of stuff." Finally, "Mine is the last track on the album, and it's called 'Buying Smokes.' I feel like it's in a Bob Dylan-y, slightly bluesy world we've never really done. It's got a wacky kind of like The Who at the end, the drums go crazy, and it's got a long guitar solo which gives me a break from singing," Craig concludes.
Upcoming North American Tour: April 9 - Toronto, ON April 11 - Cambridge, MA
April 12 - New York, NY April 14 - Philadelphia, PA April 15 - Baltimore, MD
April 17 - Chicago, IL
April 18 - Minneapolis, MN
April 21 - Denver, CO
April 22 - Salt Lake City, UT
April 24 - Seattle, WA
April 25 - Vancouver, BC
April 26 - Portland, OR
April 28 - San Francisco, CA
April 29 - West Hollywood, CA
Check out more from The Academic: