Irish indie-pop prodigies The Academic have shared the first taste of their upcoming Ep The Community Spirit with the new single ‘Kids (Don’t End Up Like Me)’.
Bursting with exuberant energy, ‘Kids’ overflows with bouncing drum beats, elastic guitar lines, and propulsive vocal lines that keep the song moving forward. It all zips by so quickly that one has to imagine it was a spur of the moment bout of inspiration that conjured the song out of thin air. Evidently, the song has been gestating for a while.
“Kids (Don’t End Up Like Me) is one of the first songs I remember writing back when I was a teenager,” singer Craig Fitzgerald explains. “It was the first time that lyrics had come very easy to me. It’s written about the fear of not getting out of your hometown and amounting to anything. Thanks to the lockdown, I had plenty of time on my hands, but nothing to write about, so I started looking through all my old notebooks and found this song fully written. I had a gut feeling that it might come to life now with a few more years of living behind me since it was originally written.”
It seems like Fitzgerald wants to push the idea that this is a contemplative song about regressive behaviour and dead-end failure, but nothing this bright and catchy can possibly carry that much weight. Focusing too much on the heaviness of never getting out of your hometown would keep you from experiencing The Academic’s best features: joy, jubilance, and scruffy pop-punk charm.
It’s hard to get too caught up in it, though, because even Fitzgerald doesn’t really fully commit to the idea that this is supposed to be a serious meditation on lost opportunities. Other than the line “Call up my dad cause I’m a failure,” the lyrics tend to lose the plot the further the song goes on. It’s a self-pitying song, but then it’s a lost-love song, but then it’s a song about not wanting to live an exciting life. When Fitzgerald mentions that “the time for empathy has long gone/But you’ll probably find it when you listen to this song”, I know he’s not talking to me, but he’s also not getting any empathy from me because a fair amount of these lyrics read to me like filler or generic crap.
The good news is that the song itself has too many rock-solid melodies and ear worms to spend any time fussing over the lyrics. It’s a big, dumb, fun song that can have a strong message if you go looking for it (and ignore some of the holes in the plot) but can also go in one ear and out the other without too much brain damage along the way.
Check out the video for ‘Kids (Don’t End Up Like Me)’ down below. The Community Spirit will be released on July 9.