What defines great pop music? It gets you dancing or at least head bobbing if you’re stuck in the car. It’s loaded with crazy hooks that you’re humming two hours after the last time you listened to it. Finally, it’s got lyrics that get stuck in your head for days.
William Beckett nails all of these with his new album Genuine and Counterfeit which drops this Tuesday. The young man who adamantly stated to me over a year ago that if he was going to be a pop star it would be on his terms is doing just that. However, to accomplish such a feat in these trying music times, Beckett couldn’t just lean on his good looks and leave the rest to songwriters, composers, producers and marketing people. He had to bring his “A” game to the table and anyone who remembers The Academy Is… knows what kind of cred William has. This guy can spin a phrase, play games with syncopation and fit more words into a phrase than should be possible and have it sound right and good.
Alternative Press used some of their bandwidth to post a stream of Genuine and Counterfeit. This is Beckett’s first full-length solo record on Equal Visions Records. In the run-up to the release William has posted the first single “Benny and Joon” audio and a music video. People who stopped by the Acoustic Basement tent at Warped Tour will remember this. Beckett recorded the album earlier this year in his hometown of Chicago, IL with producer Marc McClusky (Weezer, Ludo). Genuine & Counterfeit also features guest vocal appearances from Say Anything’s Max Bemis and Mayday Parade’s Derek Sanders.
Here Beckett’s own words really say it all: “This album is meant to be listened to from start to finish. This album is about every relationship you ever took seriously. This album is about getting kicked around, knocked down and rising up a stronger, better person than before; about trying to make it all work. This album is about the delicate balance between what is authentic and what is false; the peaks and valleys between what is genuine and what is counterfeit. This album is the story I never told. Until now.”
In my words it is “old school” in all the best ways possible. There’s no slick EDM, no bass drops or studio tricks. There are guitar effects done with pedals, catchy drum lines and simple keyboards. There is Beckett’s voice which is of a quality you don’t hear from that instrument in today’s mainstream pop without a lot of auto-tuning. Having seen William live with both The Academy Is…. and solo, he’s the real deal and there are moments in these tracks that his clear tenor will take you waltzing across the dance floor at prom in “Caught In The Middle” to grabbing you by the lapels and punching you in the face on “Time For A Sign.” “Time…is also a song with deep roots in TAI song styling as is the opening of “A Million People” and that is a supreme compliment as it was that fearlessness and innovation that put The Academy Is… on Fueled by Raman’s radar. “Hangin’ On A Honeymoon” will make your hands clap and your toes tap while “Turn On The Light” will have you brushing off your finger snapping skills. “In My Blood” says “take life by the balls and live it to the fullest, even the bad things” and “One In The Same” will make you roll down the car windows and make your own declaration of independence.
Everything about Genuine and Counterfeit is just that. There are moments when you can hear Beckett being sarcastically pretentious. The entire record would be classified as unpolished by those who live by the phoniness of overproduction. But it is that unpolished, stripped down, clarity of this album that makes it superior to 99.999% of what is spinning on Top40 radio. Genuine and Counterfeit should see an opening spot of no less than 15 in the top 20 on the charts but it will probably go unnoticed by Billboard. Thankfully that won’t stop Beckett from releasing it and then touring the hell out of it.[hr color=”light-grey” width=”100″ border_width=”50″ ]
— Kathy Creighton | @MamaKath