Heading into the summer months, the countdown to find tunes that can make the hot days more of a breeze is on. Music that is easy on the ears and embodies the carefree spirit of summer. Enter the treasure of William Beckett, the kind of musician you love or have just yet to have heard. Best known for being the co-founder and lead singer of The Academy Is…, a mixture of the band’s and William’s solo career will be making up a good portion of my summer playlist this year. Whilst finding moderate success, William is cited as being open and always willing to connect with his fans, portraying a genuine and instantly likeable persona that translates into his music.
William’s career began whilst he was still in high school in 2003 when he joined forces with rival musician, Mike Carden, to form the Chicago based pop punk band, The Academy Is…. Influenced by other bands like Weezer and U2, the band caught the attention of Pete Wentz leading to them being signed by Fueled by Ramen and building a small but devoted fan base. The sound of The Academy Is… is a true product of the alternative music scene in the 2000s, their albums a mixture of cute, nostalgic songs and unrequited love dressed in angst. ‘Days like Masquerades’ from their Lost in Pacific Time EP is more of the former, filled with cotton candy imagery and a daydream like sound. The song sings of wearing a mask or disguise but encourages you to remember what you always wanted to be and the possibilities that are still waiting for you. Being so young, most of The Academy Is… music is laced with this same youthful innocence we all once felt in the form of other songs like ‘Neighbours.’ From their 2007 album, Santi, ‘Neighbours’ is a carefree track that will have you reminiscing good times along with an infectious beat to dance along to. Another stand out from the band’s career is their cover of John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’, as it offers more depth and a step towards the maturity that formed with William Beckett’s solo career.
In 2011 The Academy Is… announced their official break up but left a promise to fans that they would still receive the music they had come to love in the form of the members solo careers. Whilst The Academy Is… produced fun, catchy songs, William’s solo career is what truly caught my ear and pulled me under his musical spell. Taking a step away from the band and the image they had built allowed William’s music to grow in talent and theme. ‘Stuck in Love’ from What Will Be is a song about all those lingering feelings left for someone after a break up and features ex-Panic! At the Disco member Ryan Ross. The drawn-out lyrics croon of the longing that remains whilst the burst-out chorus highlights the battle of wanting to break free from these feelings, switching between the two moods seamlessly and embodying the confusing feelings break ups leave us with. Moving on to Winds Will Change, ‘Dig a Hole’ is a captivating track although it’s difficult to explain exactly why other than there is just something about the combination of soaring guitar and vocals that makes you feel as if you are in your own romantic movie. The lyrics ‘together we’ll get caught in the rain’ squeeze the heart and provide a beautiful romance song with a more mature nature than The Academy Is… approach to romance. Sticking with the same album, ‘Dear Life’ is full of fun word play and showcases William’s talent as a lyricist, furthering his growth since The Academy Is… with his soft vocals really pulling at the heartstrings. Finally, ‘Our Story’s Already Been Told’ is a heart-breaking track of losing hope in love and feeling as if you have no control. Whilst ‘Dear Life’ and ‘Our Story’s Already Been Told’ might not feel very summery on the surface, they are simmering with summer romance of both love and loss that can help wind down those late evenings.
Listening to both The Academy Is… and William Beckett’s solo music is an enjoyable experience that can easily fill the long leisure hours of summer. Mainly, this blog post’s goal is to gain more awareness for an artist who has since fallen under the radar but continues to offer relatable music that also has the bonus of being damn good. For fans of the pop punk/alternative genre, it’s difficult to pin down but there is definitely an undeniable allure surrounding William Beckett’s music from catchy hooks to the enticing sound and I dare you to listen to any of the songs above (or explore your own) and not become instantly hooked.
By Skye W.Winwood