Mike Atkinson

Athlete – Beyond The Neighbourhood

Posted in album reviews, Nottingham Post by Mike A on September 2, 2007

cover-a-btnThere’s something both accurate and misleading about the title of Athlete’s third album, which will be slugging it out with Hard-Fi in next week’s race for Number One. In common with the Staines lads, Athlete have built their own studio in the area where they grew up, making this self-produced album very much a product of remainingwithin the neighbourhood. Conversely, its lyrical themes are firmly centred outwards, tackling hefty concerns such as global warming, environmental destruction and the futility of protest.

There are obvious dangers with this approach, which can easily slide into patronising preachiness. Thankfully, Athlete have avoided this trap. Rather than claiming a exalted rock star’s insight, the songs have an uncertain, questioning feel. As such, this marks a healthy progression from the inward-looking emotional concerns of its predecessor, Tourist.

Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed is the over-familiar, derivative sound of the music. Although efforts have been made to sidestep the “poor man’s Coldplay” accusations, the nagging feeling is that this is Athlete’s attempt at “doing an OK Computer”. Despite a promising opening run of spirited, uptempo numbers, the songs soon become bogged down in stodgy earnestness.

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