If you trace the evolution of pop music in America, its pretty easy to discern both a striking continuum, and a web of diverging branches. The funny thing is, both the tangential and the linear are ultimately just different faces of the same geometry. As contemporary examples of this phenomenon go, its hard to find better than The Academy Is TAI first appeared in the shiny intersection of emo and pop-punk, championed by fellow Chicagoan Pete Wentz. They still toe that line, but have also stripped away some of the more clichéd elements of either genre, focusing instead on pure pop song-craft. With their clean sound and glossy production, TAI could travel back in time and pass as pop radio stars in any decade since the dawn of the rock and roll era. While this may point to a lack of originality, it also means that they have tapped into the musical zeitgeist, not just of 2009, but of the past 50 or so years of American musical history. Odd, then, that a band so tied to what has come before is now seen as redefining the same. All ages.