Athlete - Black Swan
Paul Cook 11/08/2009
Athlete are one of those bands that have always been on the peripherals of my music spectrum. Although Black Swan is an improvement on the last album with it's uplifting tone and occasional moments of catchy, encompassing rhythm, it will unfortunately remain there, failing to experiment or deviate from the norm'.
The highlights of the album come in the form of Joel Pott's soaring, emotive vocals on tracks like Don't Hold Your Breath and Magical Mistakes. However, a dozen influences that stray too close to their forefathers come through loud and clear detracting attention away from the new material, having you guessing “where have I heard that riff/drum beat before?” The opening bars of the latter, Magical Mistakes are a dead ringer for Radiohead's 'Weird Fishes' while Love Come Rescue has a definite air of The Kooks about it with it's soft acoustic guitars and gentle vocals.
And despite this I can't say it's a 'bad album' because it does have that quintessential Athlete quality of endearment and emotion, something which has been lost from many similar artists out there. Opening track Superhuman Touch, despite it's irritating space-age electronics is an enjoyable single.
The Unknown conjures up the feeling that Athlete have listened a little too much to contemporary chart acts like The Twang but aside from a few areas due some constructive criticism, Black Swan is simply “ok.” It won't be making album of the year nor will it win the band another Ivor Novello award. However, it will please Athlete fans tremendously that they're back with a far superior album and in the grand scheme of things, if it does it will have succeeded, possibly recapturing some of those that discarded the band after the disappointment of Beyond the Neighbourhood.
Black Swan is released on Fiction on 24th August 2009.