Athlete Beyond the Neighbourhood

Considering that this was concocted and recorded in the band members’ home studios, inferring from the title that Athlete are expanding their horizons may be a little premature. When their debut, Vehicles and Animals, came out, it was a nice breath of fresh air, or an interesting and innovative spin on Coldplay-dominated Brit rock. Their follow-up, Tourist, got rid of any such aspirations and aimed for the soppy hearts and, subsequently, the top of the UK charts. They want to label this album as a return to their off-kilter, fun debut but although there are interesting parts, it still has the taint of Tourist. The interesting parts seem to be their newfound obsession with ambient electronics, as opener "In Between 2 States” floats nicely and "Best Not to Think About It” incorporates the electronics and the usual Athlete sound the best. The catchy number here, "Second Hand Stores,” even has a little fuzzy intro before bombarding us with its power chords and drums. They do move beyond the usual humdrum but they still have this MOR habit (seen in "Hurricane”) that sticks out its head more often than not. (Parlophone)