• The Academy is..., 'Fast Times at Barrington High' (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen)

    While the title indicates achingly post-ironic '80s nostalgia, Fast Times at Barrington High is giddily indiscriminate in using pop-culture references ("His Girl Friday," "Paper Chase") to articulate its postadolescent concerns. Cleverly exploiting this sidestep of lyrical intimacy, the Academy Is... slap together 43 minutes of remarkably refreshing power pop. While their Warped contemporaries skew toward torturous ambition or flaccid formula, these Chicago pretty boys are in a different league on their third album, damn near approaching the explosively catchy precision of latter-day Jimmy Eat World. All that stands between them and an equally broad fan base is their graduation to more poignant self-revelation. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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