Athlete - Tourist (Cover Artwork)


Tourist (2005)


Athlete seem somewhat preoccupied with being overtly downtrodden and purposively dramatic. From the beginning, Tourist is full of subtly changed Coldplay-esque dynamics, interweaving the strings, guitars, and of course, moody vocals into a familiar combination of palatable desire toward the emotional. What this lacks, however, is any sort of power to display those feelings convincingly. In the end it comes off as too aware of itself and too constructed; whether or not Joel Pott's crooning is simply self-indulgence or not fails to even be important within such a commonplace structuring. In the end, it fails to deliver much of interest: Coldplay's X&Y offers all the sentimentalists their already-digested flavor of the week (which has since become readily stale) while Leaves' The Angela Test offers more in the way of sincerity. The middle ground is not such a nice place in this case.

Directly from opener "Chances" it's clear that Athlete has adopted the piano and string-laden backdrop to convey quiet reflection through song, which would be alright if everyone else didn't do the same. The strings are cued up too readily for the easy-answer for quaintness. Even so, it's hard to ignore the simplistic catchiness of the song, and the vocals fit the mood fairly well, even if they are unspectacular. "Half Life" shows the alternate direction of the record, relying more heavily on a quirky synth backing and a more upbeat, danceable feel. The album plays around with both styles throughout, although the former easily dominates the mood. Songs like "Street Map" are almost inexcusably cliché while others ("Tourist") show some flairs of personality. The transitions in the record feel disjointed, moving haphazardly from sorrow to satisfaction. What results are some enjoyable moments amidst an inconsistent whole. Some of the songs are genuinely catchy, which can sustain them for a while, but after some time, it's too much of a rehashing.

Tourist is a competent album that will most likely satisfy those looking for unchallenging, predigested emotionality through fairly standard pop arrangements, but otherwise, the album's few standout moments fail to offer a compelling reason to listen, especially with the quickly failing staying power. There's a whole lot of other choices out there offering new and different looks at this old style, and while Athlete's offering is competent, it's not so interesting.