January 04, 2022

Athlete - Vehicles & Animals (2003)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop Rock
Label Number: 584 2112

© 2003 Parlophone
Apparently damned in its home country for being just a little too much out of time -- the album is not really Brit-pop, per se, but has a certain amiableness about it that suggests a certain love of things from the genre's heyday -- Athlete's debut is perfectly, almost aggressively pleasant. "You Got the Style" might have been written about race riots in early 21st century Britain, but Athlete is not out to surprise, to disrupt, or to otherwise cause problems, nor are they content to maintain the breezy pace of a "twee" band. If anything, they're doing something enjoyably relaxed enough that won't make you hate yourself, as the likes of Toploader did all too easily. Vehicles & Animals contains the group's early singles plus more recent efforts, and it generally makes for a great listen on a lazy, warm afternoon -- not party music, but quietly hooky good times. Every so often, something will spark up that makes a bit more sense of the Super Furry Animals and Pavement comparisons that the group received during its infancy -- the shift to electronic percussion and deep bass at the end of "One Million," perhaps, or the flecks of lazy semi-slacker singing from lead figure Joel Pott. There's enough keyboard bubbling and arrangements throughout that suggest the group might actually benefit from going to that sound full-time, and while hardly reinventing them, the beat songs like "Out of Nowhere" are given a pleasant post-Beck tinge. The band sounds best when it just concentrates on doing what it likes -- "Shake Those Windows" is a winning example, where a low-key enough song suddenly shifts into a summery chorus (thanks to a grand semi-country guitar line) and builds into a sweetly triumphant full-band conclusion. Even the sudden burst of a feedback-laden blast part way through "New Project" doesn't seem like a disruption of the general flow of Vehicles & Animals, and that's to its good. [In America, Vehicles & Animals was released in a deluxe edition with two bonus tracks.]

tags: athlete, vehicles and animals, 2003, flac,


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