Review of Athlete's album Black Swan
It seems an age since Athlete were nominated for a Mercury Music Prize back in 2003, having released an album every two years since as well as parting ways with original label Parlophone, we find the band at a crossroads of some sorts on new album Black Swan. Returning with a lower profile, you can't help but feel the days of number one albums and top five singles may be beyond them.
Athlete never the less seem determined to appear relevant to today's music buying public and this is a never more obvious than on Black Swan's opener Superhuman Touch. Like a large proportion of today's pop songs it finds itself drowning in thick synth chords as the 80s influence trend shows no sign of going away. All the same its tempting hooks and grandstand chorus make it a useful string to the Athlete bow.
The albums early generated energy is quickly halted in exchange for the power ballad sensibilities of The Getaway. It's a track that would sit proudly next to any of Snow Patrols output and perhaps explains why it's been given an American release. Light The Way takes a similar attitude to song writing, with its lengthy intro it builds up to a drum fuelled anthem reminiscent of the bands earlier work.
It's when the soulful Love Come Rescue kicks in that the album finds its true voice, with front man Joel Pott in fine form over some delightful acoustic guitar playing, it's a track that stands out due to its unique nature and touching lyrics, it's a sound that you wish Athlete would pursue further.
All in all, Black Swan is a mixed bag of sorts, at times it finds the band harking back to their earlier sound, bumbling its way through ballads and anthems without offended nor enthralling. However there are moments when it can be detected that the band know that regressing to their previous sound is a formula that's no longer relevant and at times dare to dip into more modern production techniques and song writing styles. Its only at these times that Black Swan is a success.
Official Site -