Athlete Tourist

Athlete’s debut, Vehicles and Animals, sold a quarter of a million copies and was nominated for a Mercury Prize in the UK, and now they’ve returned with a follow-up that narrowly avoids being cast into the overflowing sophomore slump bin of melodic British pop/rock bands. While the debut was a chirpy, upbeat foray taking Coldplay’s territory to new heights, Tourist is darker, more soulful and put simply, plainly average. The quartet predictably experiments with useless electronic synthesising that dot almost every output of this genre, creating a sound that has been done to the death. There are good moments like the addition of a lush soul choir in Tourist’s focal point, "If I Found Out” and the sombre brightness of "Wires” that gorgeously accent the relaxed atmospheric quality of their sound. Yet, immature lyricism and overindulgent production techniques, especially the addition of the token transcending string quartet in nearly every song place Tourist in a constantly uncomfortable, unfamiliar tourist trap, where the good points simply lack the strength to overcome overall melodramatic dullness. Albeit an average output, but nonetheless a reasonably respectful follow-up effort to a debut that few critics claim they could top. This will not put Athlete in the ranks with Coldplay and Keane, but it may encourage the curious to rediscover Vehicles and Animals once more. (EMI)