April 17, 2012 - Yike
Free from the record label constraints, band politics and God knows what else which furrowed his brow over the last few years, William Beckett has emerged with his first EP since the breakup of the Academy Is…. Although TAI were highly regarded in America’s post-emo landscape, Beckett’s new music cuts a swath through contemporary pop trends, retro-rock party anthems and thoughtful balladry. Fortunately, he stamps his persona on all of these idioms with aplomb, resulting in his comfort zone growing a few more acres.
The EP begins with “Compromising Me,” the best country electro-pop song Beck never wrote, where the singer is confidently walking away from his annoying girlfriend while reciting lines of slacker poetry seemingly delivered through a telephone receiver. “Girl, You Shoulda Been A Drummer” is classic Beckett, with full-on post-glam swagger, jaunty beats and nods to everything that jangles, from the Beatles to the Monkees to the Smiths. Here he comes off like the biggest tipper at the strip club (“She’s the dangerous kind/And I like it that way,” he drawls) who gets lucky later, only to feel just as used. On “Oh, Love!” Beckett can’t shake his love jones (“Nothing lasts forever/But she makes me wanna try”) while tandem harmony guitars and pep-rally beats make the song feel like an excised track from a John Hughes movie soundtrack.
The closing track, “You Never Give Up,” is a glowing ballad similar to the solemn atmospheric vistas U2 and Daniel Lanois are known for, with the singer framing the object of his affection in no uncertain terms. But when he repeatedly sings the title with his dynamic range and clarity, he may very well be singing directly to everyone lamenting the demise of his previous band. The message here is hidden in plain sight, summing up the EP succinctly: Give up on Beckett at your own peril.