So what of the album that has emerged from all of this bedlam? Listening to this album is like going on a journey with the band and everything they have experienced in the past couple of years. There is a theme running through the album of inspiration, overcoming adversity, and pushing through the overwhelming odds stacked against you. This is expressed in the uplifting and positive opening track “Superhuman Touch” and the determination of “The Unknown”. There are energetic songs which speak of love and the joy of family, such as “Light The Way” and “Magical Mistakes” but there are also moving songs speaking of loss, insecurity and pain, such as “Black Swan Song” which is about the death of Joel’s grandfather and “Don’t Hold Your Breath” written about when his wife was admitted to hospital with a possible miscarriage.
The strongest song on the album and the one which I could easily play on repeat is “Love Come Rescue”. This is a powerful and moving song that reminded me of the super ballads of U2. My only complaint is that it is too short.
Athlete sounds a lot like other bands in the indie rock genre. There are shades of Snow Patrol and Keane running through the album and indeed, U2. It is clear that they put all of their hearts and souls into this album and this is reflected in the deep, thoughtful lyrics. The album is cohesive and easy to listen to but it seems to be missing a sense of the band’s identity, that sound that makes them undeniably ‘Athlete’. I like it when bands shake it up a bit and explore new areas but they really had something with “Wires” that seems to be missing on this album. I think this is an album that fans will love but I am not sure if it will win over too many new fans.
Perhaps now that they have signed onto Polydor’s successful Fiction imprint, some work can be put into building up their image and identity.