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Review: Athlete – Tourist

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Artist: Athlete
Album: Tourist
Label: Atralwerks
Released: February 29, 2005
Web: http://www.athlete.mu/
Rating: 2.8 out of 5 Stars

With the massive worldwide success of Coldplay, Brit Pop bands are reinterpreting their formula for success at disturbing rates. Many are jumping on the bandwagon to make as much money as possible, over-saturate the market and eventually create a backlash. (Remember Pop Metal?) You’ll be hard-pressed to find a review of Athlete’s sophomore release Tourist that does not include the word “Coldplay”. Piano ballads that build to sweeping emotional vistas, the decidedly British vocal tone and the melancholic lyrics can all be found here. The Coldplay formula is in full effect. Is this a bad thing? Well, that depends on your point of view.

Unfortunately for the band, critics will rip this kind of stuff to shreds (and have), Fortunately for the band; critics don’t pay their bills.

There are some great tracks here. The title track stands out among the crowd as does “Half Light” and “Wires”, which is an emotional sledgehammer about the life struggle of singer Joel Pott’s premature baby:

“You got wires, going in
You got wires, coming out of your skin

You got tears, making tracks
I got tears, that are scared of the facts”

Writing a song like this is very dangerous territory (read: Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven, Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open”), so I give credit for even attempting to tackle such a personal and emotionally jarring subject.
The song is indeed, very moving and the production milks every drop of emotion. Maybe more than they should have, but when a song can bring a tear to your Mom’s eye, it has a good chance to sell a boatload. Since I have a small child with another on the way, it really struck a nerve in me. Of course, your reaction may vary. You may want to immediately remove the CD and crush it into powder.

The remaining tracks are unmemorable and will be quickly forgotten if they are lucky enough to be listened to in the first place.

Athlete Even though elitist circles of music criticism have created an uphill battle of perception for Athlete to climb, Tourist is not without merit. Once you get past the over-the-top production you can hear real emotion being poured forth. Emotion that will move you.

Isn’t that what “art is supposed to do?

With well-penned lyrics and interesting phrasing the band avoids throwaway bubblegum.
The slick packaging runs throughout the record and the recipe has a bit too much sugar, but all in all it’s not a confection you should turn down. A little sappiness is good now and then; just don’t expect to be eating this on a daily basis.

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