The Audition - Controversy Loves Company (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Audition

Controversy Loves Company (2005)


Don't ask how, but I really enjoyed the Academy Is...'s debut full-length. I truly believe it's far and away the best thing to come out of a new school of Chicago pop-punk artists drawing considerably more from Taking Back Sunday and Fall Out Boy than Jawbreaker, but mostly because TAI shook off much of the former similarity in question and traded it in for more of a straight, sunny emo pop sound, paced just right, nearly jazzy at points, and mostly never sounding like they're trying too hard. It's too bad none of their peers seem to even creep close to that ambition. The latest middle road example comes in the form of the Audition, whose debut full-length Controversy Loves Company not only falls into said new school rather drop-like, but could very well end up falling into lazy comparisons with TAI. The Audition separate themselves a bit with slightly more strident tempos and a vocalist who heavily resembles Over It's Peter Munters at certain inflections, but unfortunately, it's not quite as memorable or creative despite their attempts at big choruses and soft/loud dynamics track in and out.

"The Ultimate Cover Up" has a cool drum fill at one moment, but would ultimately only be further proof of potential if the songwriting showed stronger points than "so is this what you wanted? Too bad, it's what you got / so should this be my farewell? / C'mon! You know me too well." Additional offering "Approach the Bench" shows promise, though. It's a bit more aggressive than the rest of the record surrounding it, and its choral hook of "I should be ashamed of this -- I'm not!" is likely to abruptly pull in any listener even passing by. "Lawyers" has a similarly cynical chorus as well, but ruined a bit by dual "whoa-whoas." In fact, the greatest moments are all up for grabs in the second half seemingly, a rare occurrence of a record that really does save the best for last.

While Controversy isn't necessarily outright irritating like some of its companions, there's several directly obnoxious points, all related to the word 'dance' or its theme in general. One is a distorted backup vocal line of "dance, dance, dance, dance, dance" that pops up in the chorus of the opener, and you're surely left wondering if anyone isn't picking up on what's essentially a ripped off harmony from Fall Out Boy's "Dance, Dance," just with a further descent on the singing scale. The other moment is downright cheesy; it's in "Don't Be So Hard" (a track surely appropriate for TAI comparisons), with a chorus that's meant to be an exchange between two partners: "'Hold me, hold me...' / 'If I were to...' / 'I can't, can't, I swear I won't let you.'" It sounds visibly like "I can't dance! / I swear I won't let you" is being sung, and several liner note-less listens will surely trick a listener into that permanent habit of hearing. "La Rivalita" suggests dancing to the "beat of the drama," and the floor looks rather empty.

Controversy Loves Company is actually a much better effort than what I was expecting from someone who, at the present time, is merely another number in a ridiculous multitude of sprouting artists deriving from the aforementioned. It's certainly pockmarked to no end with potential; if the Audition can strip themselves of their rare moments of plagiarism and distance themselves a bit from a sound that just sounds entirely too recent, we've got a certified guilty pleasure on our hands.

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